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Understanding perinatal mental health and how you might be feeling

Pregnancy can be a very emotional experience and it can sometimes be difficult to know whether your feelings are normal or a sign of something more serious. It is important to trust yourself. You are the best judge of whether your feelings are normal for you. It’s natural to have periods of feeling worried or low when you’re pregnant or after birth, and usually these feelings resolve themselves. However, it’s important to ask for help if you’re feeling low or anxious all the time, or you feel you can’t manage. 

Mental health difficulties, such as low mood, anxiety and depression in pregnancy are common. Research shows that following childbirth women are significantly higher risk of developing mental difficulties. Up to 20% of women develop a mental health difficulty during pregnancy or within a year of giving birth.

You won’t be judged for how you feel. Your pregnancy care team, including your GP, midwife and health visitor understands that mental health conditions can affect anyone at any time. They will help you to stay well so that you can look after yourself and your baby.

They can discuss with you how to access support in relation to:  

These can be achieved through accessing:

  • Parent and baby groups, to connect with other parents and for your baby to connect with other children
  • Community based services and opportunities
  • Counselling services
  • Community mental health or perinatal mental health teams

If you have a current or past history of severe mental illness, please inform your GP or midwife once you have found out that you are pregnant so that they can offer you the right level of support.

If you are taking medication for your mental health and become pregnant, it is advisable not to stop taking it abruptly. Please seek guidance from the GP or your mental health practitioner, who will discuss with you the benefits of medication in pregnancy and any potential risks in order for you to make an informed choice about your care. 

See our perinatal mental health hub for more information.

  • Ask – you should expect to be asked ‘how are you feeling today?’ at every contact with your midwife, health visitor or GP. 
  • Assess – depending upon how you are feeling, you may be offered further screening and asked more questions.
  • Act – your midwife, health visitor or GP will then discuss what your options are for further support and treatment. This will be agreed with you, to make sure you are offered the right care and support for you at that time.