Maternal Mental Health and Wellbeing

Happy Children, Happy Parents 

We know that building a loving relationship with your new baby will give them the best possible start in life, and will help them to grow up happy and confident – The 1001 Critical Days.

New babies have a strong need to be close to their parents, this helps them to feel safe and loved. When babies feel secure they release the hormone oxytocin, sometimes known as the ‘cuddle hormone’ which acts like a fertiliser for their growing brain, helping them to be happy babies and more confident children and adults. Holding, smiling and talking to your baby will also release the hormone oxytocin in you, which helps you to feel calm and happy and promotes mother-child bonding.

Doncaster Health Visiting service offers a Universal Core service beginning in the antenatal period up to your child’s second birthday. A health visitor or nursery nurse can offer support and information supporting intellectual, social, emotional health and wellbeing for both your children and you.

First Friends Group

First Friends is a community based, health group provided in venues such as schools, family hubs, community buildings and churches around Doncaster. They provide support, advice and information to new parents in the first (birth to moving around the floor) post natal period. They support positive attachment, recognition of early cues, encouragement of early interactions, and identify low mood and reduce post natal depression through developing parents’ confidence – First Friends Group.

How can new fathers get involved?

Dads play an important role during pregnancy and after birth with the wellbeing of their partner, and supporting her to maintain healthy behaviours that also benefit their baby’s wellbeing. Fathers who are sensitive, supportive and engaged, have a massive positive impact on their baby’s life and is linked to a range of social, education and economic benefits in the future. Fathers make unique and irreplaceable contributions to the lives of their children. When the dad interacts positively with his baby or children, this in turn will make mum feel positive and emotionally stable. Babies and children who are close to their fathers, tend to be better connected with their mothers – it’s a win/win for both parents.

Doncaster Health Visiting offers Antenatal Parenting classes over a five week period and are facilitated in Family Hubs across Doncaster. These are available to all pregnant women, their partner or supporter, living in the Doncaster.

Babies are amazing! Showing dads just how fantastic their babies are, and how they can communicate from birth, is a great way to help them to feel confident about early parenting. The Newborn Behavioural Observation (NBO) tool used to help clinicians and parents to observe their infant’s early capabilities together. The NBO helps parents to get to know their baby better, understand baby’s cues and develop confidence in their role. Using tools like this with dads encourages them to be more involved in taking care of their baby. Doncaster Health Visiting clinicians currently use this tool with new parents in Doncaster.

Emotional health and wellbeing – fathers

Whatever your gender, new parenthood can be a time of stress and sleeplessness, and dads, like mums, are also susceptible to anxiety and a decline in emotional wellbeing during this time. Many fathers report that they feel isolated during this time because attention is focused on their partner and new baby. Couples can also experience less quality time ing their relationship after the birth of a baby, which can have a negative impact on their emotional wellbeing. While postnatal depression is generally associated with women, it can affect many men too. Between a quarter and a half of all new dads who’s partner is depressed also become depressed themselves.

Emotional health and well being – mothers

Pregnancy and the period after childbirth can bring about a range of emotional changes for the mother, the father and other members of the family. While many find this to be a positive experience this emotional upheaval that can result in mental health problems.

The baby blues

Following the first week after giving birth many mums may find themselves weepy and irritable. This is known as the baby blues. Symptoms include feeling emotional and irrational, bursting into tears for no reason and feelings of depression and anxiety. It’s caused by hormonal and emotional changes after having a baby, as well as adjusting to new demands and routines with less sleep. You should feel better without any treatment by the time your baby is around two weeks old. If you continue to feel this way some weeks after the birth it may be a sign you are experiencing postnatal depression.

What is postnatal depression?

The symptoms of post natal depression are similar to any other depression and it can develop within the first six weeks of giving birth although it is often not apparent until around six months. Postnatal depression can sometimes go unnoticed and many women are unaware they have it, even though they don’t feel quite right. It may be more common than many people realise, affecting around one in 10 women after having a baby.

You may find some useful information at RDASH – Talking Sense

Useful contacts:

Family Hubs

A government led program designed to give every child the best start in life. They run a number of groups, classes and provide a range of support for parents and children.

Home Start UK

Supports families with children under five years old. A trained volunteer can come and visit you each week for a couple of hours and offer practical and emotional support.

Cry-Sis

A charity offering support for families with excessively crying, sleepless and demanding babies.

Gingerbread

A leading support organisation for lone parent families in England and Wales.

La Leche League GB

Offers support and advice about breastfeeding.

National Childbirth Trust

Offers support in pregnancy, childbirth and early parenthood.