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Maternal mental health problems "concealed"

Wednesday October 10th, 2018

Many mothers of young babies do not feel able to fully express their mental health struggles, campaigners warn today.

A survey was commissioned by the National Childbirth Trust involving 1,012 women with children aged up to two years.

This showed that 35% of the women experienced emotional or mental health problems that they wanted to talk about. But 54% of these women did not feel able to do so at their six-week postnatal check.

Nearly a quarter (24%) of these mothers said there wasn't time to talk about the concern during their appointment, and 60% said they were embarrassed or worried that the doctor would think they were not capable of looking after their baby.

The results are published today (10 October), World Mental Health Day.

Sarah McMullen of the NCT said: "It's hard for mums to discuss their mental health when appointments are so short and mainly focused on their babies. There often isn't enough time to ask them how they're feeling.

"A postnatal appointment dedicated to mothers is long overdue and can give health professionals the time to make mums feel comfortable enough to open up and discuss their worries."

Following the survey the charity is calling for more funding for the six-week postnatal check so that the mother can have a full appointment, in addition to an examination of the baby.

The survey is part of the NCT's 'Hidden Half' campaign, which focuses on the importance of creating a safe environment for mothers to talk about their issues, highlighting the importance of asking open questions in a non-judgemental, empathetic way. It is encouraging midwives and health visitors to ask open questions to encourage women to speak out if they are struggling.

Tags: Mental Health | NHS | Nursing & Midwifery | UK News

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