Perinatal mental health
‘Perinatal’ refers to the period during pregnancy as well as following birth. Perinatal mental health (PMH) difficulties are challenges which affect parents during this period. PMH conditions are very common, affecting around 20% of mothers and 10% of fathers. The most commonly experienced difficulty is postnatal depression, also known as postpartum depression, but other difficulties, including perinatal anxiety, perinatal OCD, perinatal PTSD and perinatal psychosis can also start during this period. More information on each condition can be found in the section below.
PMH conditions are caused by a variety of factors and are by no means an indication that you are not right for parenthood. It is completely ok, and common, to struggle, and reaching out for help is by no means a statement that you can’t care for your baby - if anything it highlights your determination to be your best self during those early days, weeks and years.
Actions that can help
- Be kind to yourself - these are normal feelings and you should not feel ashamed about them.
- Set boundaries - there may be lots of people that want to see you and your baby, but it’s important to allow time for yourself.
- Reach out to friends and family for help and talk to them about how you’re feeling.
- Make sure to get plenty of rest, you have been through a lot both physically and emotionally. Rest doesn’t have to be sleeping, but quiet time with minimal other demands.
- Try to do things that you enjoy, things that you used to do before you had a baby.