If you are pregnant, you can book your maternity care with us in several ways.
To book for Homerton maternity care, you can either:
- make an appointment with your GP who can refer you to us
- call our Maternity Helpline on 020 8510 5955 – you will speak with an experienced midwife who can refer you
- come to the hospital antenatal clinic and complete an Antenatal Self Referral Form and email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- You can also be referred to us by your social worker or by any midwife. We recommend you book as soon as possible, ideally by 10 weeks.
We look forward to looking after you and aim to let you know the date of your first antenatal appointment within two weeks of hearing from you or your GP.
If you have any queries about your referral please contact Homerton Central Bookings on 020 8510 5094.
If you are interested in having a homebirth, please call 07775 812 741 or indicate your interest when you are referred.
Just as your body goes through many physical changes during pregnancy so does your mind, thoughts and emotions. It is very normal to experience mixed emotions, such as joy, excitement, and crying, feeling sad or worried while you are pregnant. Pregnancy hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone contribute these mixed emotional highs and lows, that you may experience, particularly in the first three months following confirmation of your pregnancy. It is important to look after your emotional well-being during pregnancy.
If you suspect there is a problem with the way you think or feel, or if you have had mental health problems in the past, there are many ways you can be helped by health professionals. Talking to your midwife, GP, obstetrician or health visitor about your emotional wellbeing is important and can help you towards getting the support that you want and need.
Normal emotional changes and when to seek help
It is very normal to have concerns about yourself and your developing baby while you are pregnant, particularly if this is your first baby or you have experienced complications in a previous pregnancy. After giving birth you my experience the ‘baby blues’ which are symptoms of feeling tearful, irritable, sad or anxious.
The ‘baby blues’ are very common and happen as a result of the rapid changes in your body chemistry and hormone levels during the first week after giving birth. During this time your body will go through many adjustments to promote the start of breast milk production and in most cases the baby blues will ease away naturally with 7 – 10 days after having your baby.
However, if during pregnancy you are feeling sad, anxious or if after the first week of having your baby you continue to feel sad, low in mood, worried or anxious it is important that you seek support and help from your GP, Midwife and or Health Visitor.
What is a Perinatal Mental Health problem?
Perinatal is the period of timearound your pregnancy and up to the first year after having your baby. During the perinatal period around 1 in 10 women will experience common mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety and or other mental health concerns.
Why do they happen?
There is no concrete research evidence to answer this, as mental health concerns can happen to anyone, at any time. Research has suggested that women who experience a difficult birth, stressful life events or lack of support, relationship difficulties, financial worries or those who may have experienced a mental health concern in the past before pregnancy, in a previous pregnancy or after having their baby may be at a greater risk of experiencing a perinatal mental problem.
However, some women may have none of these factors but still go on to experience a perinatal mental health problem. What we do know is that you can get better by receiving support and help.
What symptoms might I have if I am experiencing a Perinatal Mental Health problem?
- Low mood
- Persistent sadness
- Anger or increased irritability
- Extreme changes in appetite
- Feeling worthless or hopeless
- Feeling anxious and or often nervous that ‘something will happen’ or ‘go wrong’
- Sleep difficulties (which are not related to complication or discomfort of pregnancy)
- Difficulty bonding with the baby
- Social withdrawal from partner, friends and or family
- Obsessive thoughts and or behaviours
- Suicidal thoughts – Do seek urgent support from your local Accident and Emergency service if you experience such thoughts or you feel that your mental health is worsening
How can I get help?
- Speak to your GP, Midwife, Obstetrician or Health Visitor
- Talk to your partner, family or friends about how you are feeling
- Be aware that talking about how you feel and seeking help is always better than dealing with difficult situations alone in silence
What help will I be offered?
Our midwives, doctors and health visitors are trained in perinatal mental health and are aware of the physical and emotional changes that occur during pregnancy and following childbirth. It is important that you do not feel embarrassed or afraid to talk about how you are feeling as they are there to help you.
After talking about your mental health concerns the healthcare professional will assist you to identify your needs and offer a referral to supportive services such as self-help strategy’s, 1-to-1 counselling, psychology, or specialist perinatal mental health supportive services. The level of support that you are offered will be based on your own personal mental health needs.
I would like to get further information, where can I find this?
A number of useful resources and are provided here:
- Join a group meeting expectant or new mothers in your local area (speak to your midwife or health visitor about these services offered within your local children centre)
- Follow the 5 Steps to Emotional wellbeing in Pregnancy above
- Take a look at helpful websites and resources listed below:
City and Hackney Mind - Part of the City and Hackney community since 1980, they offer advice, counselling and support people with experience of mental ill health
Bikur Cholim - support for people with an experience of mental ill health within the Orthodox Jewish community living in North London
Derman - support for people with an experience of mental ill health within the Kurdish and Turkish, Turkish Cypriot, eastern European living in Hackney
Two in Mind - offer resources and fact sheets about emotional wellbeing and promoting healthy parent-child relationships during pregnancy and beyond
Unicef - offers information about preparing for baby and bonding with baby during pregnancy and following childbirth
http://www.pandasfoundation.org.uk/ - offer a helpline, support groups, online support and advise for any parent who is experiencing a perinatal mental illness
https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/im-pregnant - offers information about, pregnancy and offers practical advice about staying well
Work and Benefits
Maternity Action - provide expert advice and support to empower parents about their rights at work or benefit entitlement
https://www.gov.uk/working-when-pregnant-your-rights - offers expert advice around statutory maternity rights and shared parental leave entitlement
Gingerbread - provide expert advice, practical support and for single parents
What do I do if I have an urgent mental health concern and need to see or speak to someone now?
- Please attend your local Accident and Emergency service if you feel that you mental health is deteriorating and you need immediate support/help
We aim to tell you the date of your first appointment with us within two weeks of receiving your referral; you will receive either a phone call or a letter.
If this is your first baby, we aim to complete your first (or ‘booking’) appointment by12 weeks of pregnancy, followed by appointments at 16, 20, 26, 30, 34, 36, 38 and 40 weeks of pregnancy.
If this is not your first baby, you will have your first (or ‘booking’) appointment at 10-12 weeks of pregnancy, followed by appointments at 16, 20, 26, 30, 34, and 38 weeks of pregnancy.
If you have complications in your pregnancy, you may be seen more often. And if your baby hasn’t been born after 41 weeks of pregnancy, you will have another appointment at the antenatal clinic to check your and your baby’s wellbeing and discuss your options.
If you have problems in pregnancy
If your problem is not urgent, please contact the Maternity Helpline on 020 8510 5955 (10am-6pm, 7 days a week); an experienced midwife will be on hand to assist you.
Warning signs in pregnancy are:
- any bleeding from the vagina after your pregnancy has been confirmed
- severe abdominal (belly) pain
- severe headache particularly if you have visual disturbances (like spots in front of your eyes)
- if your waters break
- if your baby’s movements get less or you think you haven’t felt the baby moving like (s)he usually does
- passing urine frequently – and with discomfort/pain
- a coloured or smelly vaginal discharge
If you are suffering any of these symptoms, please contact a doctor:
Before 18 weeks of pregnancy: contact your GP for advice or come into A&E (out of hours). You may be seen in the Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit (Monday-Friday, 8.30am-4.30pm).
After 18 weeks of pregnancy: telephone Delivery Suite 020 8510 7351 / 7352 / 7353 (24 hours a day). You may be seen in the Obstetric Assessment Unit (OAU). This unit is open Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm.