Help and emotional support during pregnancy and the first year after having a baby
Having a baby can be joyful, exciting and rewarding. However, it is also common for you and/or partners to experience anxiety, depression or emotional distress. As many as one in five people experience emotional difficulties during pregnancy and in the first year after their baby’s birth. This can happen to anyone.
NHS Talking Therapies
Every London borough has an NHS Talking Therapies service (sometimes still called IAPT) which offers free, confidential talking therapy for people who have symptoms of anxiety or depression. They give priority if you are pregnant or new parents. This page explains more about the service and the help we can offer you if you need it.
It is common if you are pregnant or a new parent to experience:
- low mood, sadness and tearfulness
- anxiety, worry and tension
- irritability and anger
- difficult or unexpected feelings towards your pregnancy or baby
- poor sleep even when your baby sleeps well
- feeling unable to cope or enjoy anything
- thoughts that you are not a good enough parent
- worrying thoughts about your baby
- anxiety about labour or struggling to come to terms with a difficult labour.
Asking for help
It can be difficult to talk about how you are feeling and ask for help. Common reasons for this are:
- you may not know what is wrong
- you may feel ashamed that you are not enjoying your baby or coping as you believe you should
- you may worry that your baby will be taken away.
Struggling emotionally at this time can happen to anyone. It is not your fault.
Asking for help doesn’t mean you can’t cope or are not able to care for your child. It’s the start of getting the right help and support to ensure you can be the parent you want to be.
How NHS Talking Therapies can help you
NHS Talking Therapies offers short-term talking therapy to give you space to talk. The types of therapy offered will vary depending on your local IAPT service. These may include guided self-help sessions with a therapist, cognitive behaviour therapy, couples therapy and counselling.
How to contact NHS Talking Therapies
You can refer yourself to NHS Talking Therapies by phoning your local service directly or via their website. Contact details for local services can be found below. You may find it hard to contact the service yourself, please ask your midwife, health visitor, friend or a family member to help you make that first call. Your GP can also make the referral. We know that pregnancy and the first year of your baby’s birth is a very important time. NHS Talking Therapies will offer you an assessment and treatment as soon as possible.
What to expect when you contact NHS Talking Therapies
When you first make contact you will be asked for some brief details. A time will be arranged for you to speak to one of the therapists. This appointment will be booked as soon as possible, usually within a few days. The first appointment is to find out about your current difficulties. This helps NHS Talking Therapies decide how they can best help you.
At the end of the appointment, they will discuss the support options available and agree a plan.
All NHS Talking Therapies aim to be flexible and want to make it as easy as possible for you to get the help you need. You can often bring your baby to sessions if you want to. Services usually offer you a choice of locations for your appointment, sometimes in antenatal clinics or children’s centres.
Find your local NHS Talking Therapies
|020 3228 1350
|020 3260 1100
|Greenwich Time to Talk
|020 8303 8932
|Mind in Bexley
Always Ask – trust your instincts
It’s important to trust your instincts and to ask a professional if you have a health concern or are worried that something doesn’t feel right with your pregnancy.
If you have a concern that is non-urgent, please call your midwife or call our Maternity Helpline on 020 8836 4491.
If your concern is urgent, please attend your closest hospital to be reviewed by the maternity team.
Always Ask is the message of a campaign launched by Tommy’s charity, King’s College London and the BabyCentre website to empower pregnant people to overcome fears about speaking to professionals about any health concerns.
The film animation below was developed with the help of 34 women who have previously experienced serious complications in pregnancy or birth. While pregnancy information often mentions specific red flag signs and symptoms such as stomach pain or bleeding, the ‘Always Ask’ campaign does not talk about specific symptoms; instead, it encourages you to trust your instincts and ‘look out for changes that don’t feel right’. It also gives practical tips on appointments, getting listened to and being taken seriously.
You can also find links to support at www.lewisham.gov.uk/notfeelingok
Perinatal Positivity uses the real voices of women and men who have had mental wellbeing difficulties around the time of pregnancy, childbirth and beyond. We hope the Perinatal Positivity film will help you emotionally prepare and find support at this time.