• Text Size: A A A

Pregnant mothers invited to hear about specialist mental health maternity support

Posted: 5 July 2016
Sarah Newall, Communications

PREGNANT mothers, their families and the wider community are invited to a public event to learn more about how crucial mental well-being is during and after pregnancy.

The event is called ‘The importance of mental health care during pregnancy and beyond’ and aims to raise awareness and reduce stigma around mental health conditions during pregnancy, childbirth and when the baby is born.

Picture of Mr Raja Gangopadhyay, Consultant Obstetrician in Perinatal Mental HealthA number of mothers who have lived through mental illness will talk about their personal experiences at the event, alongside experts in the field.

It will also be an opportunity to meet the newly launched Lavender Team at Watford General Hospital who have developed a programme of mental well being support for the mother.

Leading the session will be West Hertfordshire Hospital NHS Trust’s pioneering Consultant Obstetrician in Perinatal Mental Health, Mr Raja Gangopadhyay, who is a regular attendee at the House of Commons for all party parliamentary group meetings on a campaign called 1001 critical Days. More recently he spoke in a House of Lords debate on June 7.

He said: “We need to start talking about this; suicide in pregnancy and the first postnatal year remains one of the leading causes of maternal death. This affects not just the mother but the child and the wider family.

“We must begin to acknowledge that the mental health of the mother is as important as any other medical condition such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

“Poor mental health can also affect the foetus. This can lead to pre-term delivery, growth restriction, and developmental delay causing low IQ and/or anti-social behaviour. This can also have long term effects including early onset mental health conditions in the child.”

In addition to the vigilance and passion of Mr Gangopadhyay and his peers pregnant women who attend Watford General Hospital will also have access to the newly launched Lavender Team who are a team of highly trained midwives providing high quality and streamlined specialised care for mothers with the following conditions:

  • Mental health illnesses
  • Domestic violence
  • Complicated social needs such as substance misuse, recent arrival as a migrant, asylum seeker or refugee status, difficulty speaking or understanding English, domestic abuse, poverty and homelessness
  • Pregnancy during teenage years
  • Female Genital Mutilation

There will also be two speakers: Iain Cunningham, director of the documentary film Irene’s ghost and Elaine Hanzak, a well-known author and post-partum psychosis survivor.

Mr Gangopadhyay added: “I am also keen to stress that post-natal depression, post-partum psychosis or just general depression and anxiety can happen to anyone. It does not have to have presented itself in the mother before pregnancy. We all need to look out for the signs and be vigilant over our loved ones because there is help out there and the sooner a diagnosis, the sooner things can be managed and monitored.

“Women must speak up if they are troubled. It is not just important for them but for the baby. What I have learnt in my career so far is that if you listen to the patient then you can never go wrong but we must be asking the right questions and providing the right solutions.

“I hear time after time mothers saying to me they feel a lack of control or a sense of failure, that they are a bad mother. I always say to them you are the perfect mum for your baby – you can’t be a bad mum.”

The free event will be held on 15 July between 6pm and 8pm at Westfield Academy, Tolpits Lane, Watford, WD 18 6NS (access via Croxley View).

For those who require additional support such as wheelchair access, loop induction system, sign language interpretation and/or translators please contact the patient and public involvement department on 01923 217 803 or 01923 436 788. There will be a safe area designed for pushchairs and free parking on site.

This event has been organised in conjunction with Herts Valley Clinical Commissioning Group. Watford MP Mr Richard Harrington has also extended his support for the event.

Notes to editors:

For further information or an interview request with West Hertfordshire Hospitals Trust's Consultant Obstetrician in Perinatal Mental Health Mr Raja Gangopadhyay please contact Sarah Newall on 0744 9040798 or email sarah.newall@sarahnewallmedia.co.uk

For more information about the work of our hospitals, please visit: www.westhertshospitals.nhs.uk.

You can also join the followers we have on Twitter (www.twitter.com/WestHertsNHS or @WestHertsNHS) or ‘like us’ on Facebook (www.facebook.com/WestHertsNHS).

For more information, please contact Sarah Newall, Communications in the Trust’s communications department on telephone: 01923 436 280 or email: info@whht.nhs.uk. Out of hours, please call 07900 228 031.

West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust is a large acute trust serving people from across Hertfordshire, north London and further afield. The Trust is made up of Watford, St Albans and Hemel Hempstead hospitals and sees about 600,000 patients a year. The Trust is one of the largest employers locally, with around 4,500 staff and volunteers.