Mental health network

A good start in life: Improving perinatal and maternal mental health provision


04 / 06 / 2014

Mental health problems affect more than one in ten women during pregnancy and the first year after childbirth, and can have a devastating impact on them and their families. This briefing highlights the prevalence of maternal mental health problems, the services that vulnerable women and their families need, and the contribution mental health organisations can make to improve perinatal provision in England.

Key points from the briefing:

  • Around one in ten women experience mental health problems during pregnancy and the first year after childbirth
  • Perinatal mental health problems make a significant contribution to both maternal and infant morbidity and mortality
  • Suicide is one of the leading causes of maternal death in the UK.
  • Women who need inpatient care for a mental health problem within 12 months of childbirth should normally be admitted to a specialist mother and baby unit
  • Expert early identification and management of perinatal mental health problems should prevent women reaching the point where they need inpatient care
  • There is commissioning challenge to ensure equity of access for specialist perinatal mental health services
The Mental Health Network recognises the importance of improving maternal mental healthcare, which presents a unique opportunity to reduce and prevent morbidity and mortality. We are keen to see the sentiments of the whole-family approach, reflected in many Government policy documents, promoted and implemented across services.

These are services that can make a real difference to shape future lives.

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Let us know what you think about the issues and ideas in this briefing. You can email us at or join the discussion on twitter @nhsconfed_mhn

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