Maternal Mental Health / Emotional wellbeing of parents
After having a baby, a mother's hormones can be up and down as you adjust to a new lifestyle with your new baby. Health visitors understand this happens sometimes so we support mothers as well as fathers during the antenatal period (from 28 weeks gestation), to birth and until the baby is a year old.
Advances and research in neuroscience have recognised the importance of early neural development, highlighting the interdependence between parental mental health and the development of the baby brain (Institute of Health Visiting-IHV).
In health visiting we realise the importance of bonding and attachment between mother and her unborn baby. A mother’s feelings and thoughts towards her unborn baby are important to the neurological development of the baby. The perinatal emotional health/wellbeing and mental health of all families is a public health priority.
After your new birth visit an appointment will be made for a follow up visit - your 6-8 week contact. Although your health visitor will be checking on how baby is developing, this visit will also focus on how the parents emotional and mental health are. Your health visitor will carry out assessments including maternal mood assessment, Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale and Generalised Anxiety Disorder assessment. Each of these looks at specific areas which can indicate whether further support is required.
Your health visitor will also provide health promotion advice ready for your baby’s next stage of development, and answer any questions you may have.
If you are suffering from low mood or postnatal depression, your health visitor can support you with listening visits, liaising with your GP or onward referrals to mental health services. You are also free to self-refer to talking therapies at any time https://www.talkingtherapies.nelft.nhs.uk/barking-and-dagenham
Bonding and attachment between mother, father and baby is just as important too.