Perinatal mental health

What does perinatal mean?

Perinatal is the period of time during pregnancy and up to a child’s first birthday. During this time any woman can be vulnerable to experiencing emotional difficulties and need extra support.

We are able to offer extra support to you and your family if you are likely to, or are experiencing problems during this time. We can help you to have a safe and healthy pregnancy and support you after the birth of baby.

What help can I get?

We support Hertfordshire families experiencing or at risk of developing emotional problems during the perinatal period. Without this support, it could be a challenging and unsettling period for you, your baby and family.

Support can be provided from the beginning of pregnancy until your child’s first birthday and is available for mums and partners too.

Pre-conception counselling is also available. This is for women who have previously had a serious mental illness and want to get advice about managing risks and treatment, in a future pregnancy, before they become pregnant.

Support available includes:

  • Consultation with a specialist doctor
  • Advice about medication and its safety in pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • Specialist psychological therapies
  • Additional support from specialist perinatal workers
  • Birth care planning
  • Pre-conception counselling.

How can I get referred?

A professional (such as your GP, midwife, health visitor, Family Centre staff or similar) can refer you to the right person.

It's important not to worry if a professional would like you to receive our support. We are here to help you, your baby and family have the best experience; sometimes this requires getting a little extra help. We want to keep you well and know that acting early helps prevent problems developing later on.

What will happen after I have been referred?

After you have been referred, our specialist perinatal professional will phone to discuss how you are feeling and arrange for you to have an assessment with a professional, or may advise on alternative support most suitable for you.

We can offer you care to meet your needs, alongside other health professionals who may be involved such as your midwife, obstetrician, GP or health visitor. Depending on your situation, you may have your assessment in an antenatal clinic, in an outpatient clinic or in a community venue. Occasionally you may have an assessment in your home.

If you have previously suffered the following, it is likely you will be offered support:

  • Previous episodes of post-partum psychosis
  • Postnatal depression or anxiety (previous or current)
  • Previous or current mental health issues prior to or during pregnancy
  • Previous birth trauma / PTSD
  • Strong family history of mental health problems in the perinatal period.

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How to get help

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Refer yourself