By Ruth Tucker, Solicitor, Clinical Negligence
This week (29 April to 5 May 2019) is the UK Maternal Mental Health Matters Awareness Week.
Mental health problems during or shortly after pregnancy are more common than you think; more than one in ten women develop a mental illness during pregnancy or in the first year of their baby’s life.
Although pregnancy is considered a joyful time of life, it can increase the risk of mental health issues, or trigger a worsening of an existing condition. This isn’t surprising given that on top of any existing mental health issues, mum-to-be is going through major hormonal, emotional and physical changes.
The effect can be worse if your pregnancy or birth are traumatic. The long-lasting impact can affect every area of the mum’s and their family’s lives. There is a real need for society to recognise that labour and birth can be a distressing time.
But just because these issues are common, it doesn’t mean that you should consider them a normal part of any pregnancy. Mums matter and when you’re not okay it’s important to talk. Share how you feel with your midwife, or doctor – there is help, support and treatment available. There are also several charities that may help, including Make Birth Better.
Mum’s mental health matters throughout pregnancy and beyond into the early years. Check-ups for mums after birth often overlook PTSD, focussing more upon depression. In the main, you may feel that the health visitor is placing all their focus on your baby, with just a passing comment, ‘you okay?’. Many Mums are, but sometimes, when you’re not, it’s important to talk. Important to share how you feel. You are unfortunately not the only new Mum feeling that way, there is help.
Anna Simpson*, Wakefield, experienced a traumatic birth. After two failed attempts of assisted delivery, Anna and her baby needed an emergency C-Section.
Anna described the situation as “very frightening” and being scared of the amount of people crowded around her, tearing her clothes and jewellery from her. It made her feel like she was being attacked and made her feel more physically exhausted. In what should have been a peaceful and exciting experience, quite the opposite happened.
Afterwards, Anna was diagnosed with post-natal Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), reliving her experience over and over again. With no improvements in her feelings as time went on she underwent therapy, which helped.
Anna accessed therapy through her claim, and we are so pleased that it has assisted her to understand that her feelings came from a traumatic experience, that she wasn’t alone and that with time and help, those feelings would change.
*names have been changed.
At Switalskis Solicitors our experienced Clinical Negligence team frequently work with mothers and families who have suffered as a result of problems during and after labour. If you would like to speak to a member of our team please contact us on 01484 825 200.