Just weeks after the tragic news that a new mum and her four day old baby were found in the Avon Gorge, The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has stated that women with or at risk of mental health problems should receive extra support at all stages of pregnancy and beyond.
It is estimated that up to a fifth of women suffer from depression or anxiety within a year of giving birth as well as an increased risk of psychosis, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, tokophobia (an extreme fear of giving birth) and eating disorders.
NICE has recognised that although such problems respond well to treatment, that they frequently go unrecognised and untreated in new and expectant mothers. Under its recommendations it has suggested that:
- All women of childbearing age who have a new, existing or past mental health problem should be given counselling about the potential implications of pregnancy
- In early pregnancy, mental health and wellbeing should be discussed at the first booking appointment
- Any woman suffering from a mental health problem during or after pregnancy should receive an integrated care plan that will set out a treatment programme
- Guidelines on the most appropriate drugs that can be offered during pregnancy and breastfeeding should be provided
- Women and their partners who have experienced a traumatic event during pregnancy or childbirth should be offered extra support
- Recommendation about what should be offered to mothers who suffer a miscarriage or whose baby is stillborn should be provided
Professor Mark Baker, Director of NICE Centre for Clinical Practice commented:
“Giving women the right treatment at the right time can have a profound effect - not just for the mother but for the family too. The effect of getting this right can last for years.”
If you would like more information about postnatal depression including tips on beating it and the treatments available, please feel free to visit our Postnatal Depression Knowledge Centre.