With one in four women experiencing mental health problems during pregnancy and in the first year following the birth of a child, support from maternity services can significantly impact their mental health and wellbeing.
Healthwatch England have launched a national survey to understand better what is working and what needs improving for people who develop mental health difficulties relating to their maternity experience.
Healthwatch England have done several national pieces of research into maternity services over the years. Their work has contributed to securing important policy wins, such as the rolling out of mother and baby units in every part of the country. In 2020, following their work, NHS England launched 6-week mental health checks for new mothers to ensure they feel well and have the support they need if they struggle with their mental health. Their recent review of the evidence of 2,500 people’s experiences of maternity services showed that feedback from patients to Healthwatch about maternity care is worsening.
"I was left alone"
“There was a complete lack of care and communication from the staff which left me feeling vulnerable, abandoned and scared. I felt like an inconvenience to medical staff and as though I was on a birthing conveyor belt. I do not recall words of encouragement from the midwives. I just needed one of them to hold my hand and tell me that I was okay. Giving birth is a life-changing experience and one that makes you feel extremely vulnerable. I was left feeling violated, frightened and alone. The mental health of mothers is equally as important as their physical health.”
– Healthwatch Havering.
Opportunity to share your views
We know that over the last two years, it is not just physical maternity services that have been under pressure. The lack of support available to help with mothers’ and birthing parents’ mental health also appears to be worsening.
Healthwatch England's national survey aims to give you the opportunity to share your views and experiences to help them better understand what is working and what needs improving for new parents.
For instance, they want to know whether the support you received for your mental health during pregnancy and birth met your needs. They also want to see if you had your six-week postnatal check-up and what it was like.
Who do they want to hear from?
- They want to hear from you if you have been pregnant in the last two years and have experienced mental health difficulties before, during or after giving birth.
- They are very interested in the experiences of women from ethnic minority communities and LGBTQ+ birthing parents.
Everything you tell them is confidential and will help them and the NHS understand what they need to put in place to better support people like you.
So whether you had a positive or negative experience with mental health support during or after pregnancy, they want to hear it.