#Readyforpregnancy - Focus on your mental health
Good mental health before, during, and after pregnancy is as important as physical health.
The #Readyforpregnancy campaign, which aims to provide useful information for women across East Berkshire, North East Hampshire and Farnham and Surrey Heath, focuses on this aspect of health In September, by raising awareness of mental health and by sharing useful tips.
It is not uncommon for women to experience mental ill health for the first time in pregnancy. Some may feel more vulnerable and anxious, whilst others may develop depression.
For women who have suffered with severe mental health in the past, or presently, they are more likely to become ill during pregnancy, or in the year after giving birth, than at other times in their life. However, this is not always the case as many mothers remain well during pregnancy – everyone is different with triggers for becoming unwell.
What is useful is to plan for all situations and to ensure that you have access to the right help, support and treatment if needed. If left untreated could have significant and long-lasting effects on you, your child and the wider family.
If you are taking medication for your mental health - don’t just stop taking it if you are, or plan to be, pregnant. Talk to your GP about options for you and your baby.
Consultant Gynaecologist & Obstetrician, Dr Anne Deans, who is also the Chief of Service Obstetrics and Gynaecology for Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, said; “Whatever your situation, we encourage you to talk to your midwife or doctor. There is also lots of useful information available on line. Planning for a pregnancy or being pregnancy although exciting can be overwhelming so it’s important that you feel supported along the way.
“If you have a mental health condition and are planning to have a baby, then discuss your plans with your GP or psychiatrist. We refer to this as pre-pregnancy or pre-conception counselling and can help you and your doctor plan for the healthiest start for you and your baby.
“Equally, during pregnancy and after your baby is born, don’t be afraid to tell your midwife or health visitor how you’re feeling. It’s normal for many women to feel down, tearful or anxious in the first few days after giving birth. If your symptoms last longer than two weeks or start later, you may have what is called postnatal depression which is treatable with steps that you can also take to build your resilience and help recovery.”
For women and their families living in East Berkshire, North East Hampshire and Farnham and Surrey Heath, there is a free online parenting course available which specifically focuses on understanding your pregnancy, labour, birth and baby which can help support good mental health.
Emma Taylor, representing Maternity Voices Partnerships in the Thames Valley area, said: “It’s so important that women have all the information they need to make their own informed choices before and during pregnancy, and this campaign will help them to make small changes that will make big differences to both them and their baby.”
Access to the guide is unlimited with no expiry date, so you can return as and when you need and want to. The guide has between 5 to 11 sessions which last roughly 20 minutes each, there are also activities that can be carried out between courses.