What Is Perinatal Mental Health?

What Is Perinatal Mental Health?

Posted by Suzy Wedley on 9 February, 2022

At TALKWORKS we consider a perinatal mental health problem to be something that you can experience from when you became pregnant to when your child is 2 years old. Perinatal mental illness affects up to 20% of new and expectant mothers, and covers a wide range of conditions.


What are some of the challenges around pregnancy?

Becoming pregnant and having a baby is a huge life event, and although we like to think of it as a time of joy and anticipation, the reality is that it is completely normal to feel a range of emotions during this time.

  • You may be anxious about the birth or having a new life to look after.
  • You may be worried about your career, finances or changes in your identity.
  • You may struggle with past experiences as a parent yourself or from your own childhood.
  • You may feel pressure from your family, friends or society and the expectations they have of you.
  • You may struggle with breastfeeding, or perhaps the birth didn’t turn out the way you hoped it would.
  • You may become depressed or anxious as the stress and changes and difficult feelings build up.

All of these feelings are completely natural and yet, as a society, we often don’t like to talk about them. It’s as if somehow we are bad parents if we’re not happy and positive all the time, but the reality is these feelings are all very common – we just don’t talk about them! In reality however, during the antenatal period: 12% of women experience depression (a third of these then go on to develop postnatal depression) and 13% of women experience anxiety.

During the post-natal period:

  • 30-80% of women experience baby blues. This is due to hormonal changes and usually only last a few days.
  • 10-15% of women experience post-natal depression
  • 13% experience anxiety disorders
  • Women with post-natal anxiety may also develop depression
  • Depression in the post-natal period can manifest as anxiety in dads.


But it’s not all bad news…

Those statistics may sound depressing and scary, but we also know that babies are very reactive to the emotions of the people around them. If mothers are able to respond to their baby, then this alone can reduce any impact the depression or anxiety may have on the baby.


What support can TALKWORKS offer?

At TALKWORKS we understand how having a baby can affect your mental health so we prioritise all women in the perinatal period so we can begin working with as soon as possible. We aim to see a perinatal woman within two weeks for assessment and then prioritise treatment session going forward. We offer 1:1 sessions for anxiety and depression - these are generally over the phone, but can also be face to face or online. We also offer high intensity treatment which is 1:1 therapy for OCD, Tokophobia (fear of giving birth), birth trauma or trauma triggered by the perinatal period.

TALKWORKS also run a ‘Wellbeing for Parenthood’ workshop for anyone who is pregnant or has a child under the age of two. The aim of the workshop is to help look after your mental health during this lifestyle change. The workshop focuses on managing worry, setting goals, establishing routine, building positive communication and sleep. Both parents and partners are welcome to attend.

So, if you or your partner are finding things hard, it is important you know that how you are feeling is completely normal. Please remember that you are not alone in what you are going through – TALKWORKS is here to help and support you.


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