Maternal Mental Health

1 in 5 mothers experience a perinatal mental health problem.

You may have heard the terms ‘Maternal Mental Health’ and ‘Perinatal Mental Health’ used interchangeably; these terms refer to the mental health of a mother during pregnancy and up to two years after giving birth. Most people have heard of Postnatal Depression; this is depression which occurs in mother AFTER birth, however depression (and other mental health conditions) can also occur during pregnancy.

Some other common perinatal mental illnesses include, anxiety, PTSD, OCD and eating disorders. These condition can cary in severity, but it is important to get help and support as soon as possible. In some cases, the individual may have had a mental health condition prior to getting pregnant and have noticed their signs and symptoms worsening during the perinatal period, for others, it may be their first experience of the condition.

The most serious perinatal mental health condition is said to be Postpartum Psychosis, this condition should be treated as a medical emergency and it is important to seek help if you suspect that you or a loved one is experiencing this.
You can read about the signs and symptoms of Postpartum Psychosis here.

70% of those who are struggling will downplay their symptoms – often out of fear of being judged or having their children taken away from them.

Baby Blues?

While baby blues are very common in new mothers, this is not the same as a perinatal mental health condition.
Baby blues tends to occur 3-10 days after giving birth and only lasts for a brief time, going away without any need for intervention. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Being weepy, crying over seemingly minor things.
  • Mood swings.
  • Being irritable.
  • Feeling unattached / not bonded with their newborn.
  • Missing your old lifestyle.
  • Worrying about your babies health and safety.
  • Insomnia despite feeling exhausted.
  • Trouble making decisions and thinking clearly.

If these symptoms last for 2-weeks or more, this could be a sign of a mental health condition and help and support should be sought.

Causes of Perinatal Mental Health Conditions:

There is no definitive cause. However, there may be some factors that increase the risk of one developing.

  • Genetics – If a sibling or parent has suffered from mental health conditions, you may be at higher risk.
  • Your own personal history will also play a part.
  • Lack of support from friends and/or family.
  • If you had a difficult upbringing.
  • Domestic Abuse.
  • Financial Difficulties.


Treatments will look different depending on individual circumstances and which mental health condition you are presenting symptoms of. Typically they may include a combination of medication and therapy as well as connecting you with other forms of help and support.

Leave a Reply