Specialist mental health hub for pregnant women and new mums to be set up in Milton Keynes

A dedicated mental health service is to be launched for new, expectant and bereaved mums in MK.

Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 3:06 pm
Updated Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 3:08 pm

The women will receive help and support for problems including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after giving birth and a severe fear of childbirth.

It is estimated that as many as one on four women experience these problems to some degree.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: “The pregnancy and the birth of a new child are a special time for families but if things go wrong it can have a huge impact on women, their partners and even other children."

A new baby is not always a joyous occasion when the mother is experiencing problems

He added: “NHS staff have pulled out all the stops to deal with more than 393,000 patients requiring hospital treatment for Covid-19 but we have also kept mental health services running and I am delighted that, we are now

expanding help for new, expectant and bereaved mums despite the continuing pandemic.

The MK hub will be one of 26 all over the country, designed to bring together maternity services, reproductive

health and psychological therapy under one roof. As well as offering psychological therapies for new and expectant mums, the clinics will also provide training for maternity staff and midwives.

Ten of the sites will be up and running within months and the remainder will open by April 2022.

Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s national mental health director, said: “Every woman has a unique experience with pregnancy and motherhood and some will need extra support to cope with mental health issues that can range from anxiety to severe depression so I am delighted that mothers across all areas of the country will be able to

access this help if they need it.

She added: “I would encourage any mum who needs this support to come forward safe in the knowledge that her mental health and well-being are of paramount importance and she should not feel ashamed of accessing the help she needs.”

It is estimated that it costs the NHS and social care sector £1.2 billion per year where women do not access high-quality perinatal mental health services.

Dr Giles Berrisford, NHS England’s national speciality advisor for perinatal mental health, said: “We know around one in four women experiences mental health problems in pregnancy and during the 24 months after giving birth, and these maternal mental health services will provide vital support, meeting the specific needs of these women."

“Their establishment will significantly contribute to the overall commitment of the NHS to enable at least 66,000 women with moderate to severe mental health difficulties related motherhood to access specialist care by 2023/24.”

The facility aims to reach a cohort of women that may previously have faced a gap in service.

One women who has already benefitted is Lizzie, who had a miscarriage prior to her current pregnancy. This experience triggered low mood, a sense of lost safety and heightened danger, nightmares and intrusions around the miscarriage and a lack of excitement about the new baby.

In pregnancy, Lizzie was referred to the Perinatal Mental Health Team (PMHT) by her midwife and referred to the Maternal Mental Health Service.

She was given sessions of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, a psychotherapy treatment that was originally designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories. This intervention was able to reach Lizzie’s core worry that the miscarriage was her fault.

Lizzie then started to feel excitement towards the new baby, while continuing to remember the lost baby and not feel that she was responsible for what happened.

Through this work, all the identified symptoms of PTSD, as well as her feelings of low mood and loss of safety disappeared. Lizzie was discharged after three sessions of EMDR with significant improvement and evidence of good recovery, therefore reducing risk of negative impact in the future for her and her children.

The Clinical Psychologist in the MMHS who completed the assessment and treatment on this case said: “The MMHS gave Lizzie fast access to brief treatment which had a significant impact on her mental health, the

difficulties were affecting her relationship with her unborn baby whilst also making day to day life a struggle. Brief treatment enabled the processing of loss and renewed possibility of bonding and being excited about and preparing for her new baby.”

Several weeks after she had completed her treatment, and having had her baby girl Enfys, Lizzie said: “I feel unbelievably better after this pregnancy and birth compared to how I felt after my experience with my first child when there wasn’t any support available to me; even with the added distress of having a miscarriage, the pressures of Covid-19restrictions and not being able to see my family.

“I feel happier, more confident and much better in my mental health. I feel fully recovered. The service was brilliant!”