The evidence base
Research has shown that a significant proportion of women experience anxiety or depression in the perinatal period (O’Hara and Wisner, 2014; Hogg, 2013). Partners of pregnant women also suffer from mental health problems during this period such as depression and anxiety disorders (Paulson and Bazemore, 2010; Leach et al, 2016).
Parental mental illness during pregnancy can have a lasting effect on some children. Stress chemicals produced by women suffering from depression or anxiety can affect their unborn child’s development. Anxiety and depression during pregnancy can also increase the risk of postnatal depression, making it harder for parents to provide warm and responsive care after the baby is born.
It’s important to identify parents who are at risk early, and ensure they get the support they need. Unfortunately, research shows that perinatal anxiety and depression regularly go undetected. When symptoms are identified, parents often struggle to access the treatment they need.
Services often focus solely on the women’s symptoms, without addressing the impact on their developing relationships with their babies. The mental health of fathers or partners can be over looked, despite the important role they play in mothers’ and babies’ lives.
To make sure we were meeting families’ needs, in both the design and development of Pregnancy in Mind we used a co-operative approach involving:
- service managers
- commissioners and academics.