Tommy’s launches a new mental health digital tool for pregnancy and post-birth.
- 1 in 5 women experience mental health issues during and after pregnancy
- The Wellbeing Plan is like a birth plan for mental wellbeing
Today we are launching a digital version of the NICE-approved Pregnancy and Post-birth Wellbeing Plan. The new digital tool, created in partnership with the Institute of Health Visitors (IHV), the National Childbirth Trust (NCT), Netmums, Public Health England (PHE) and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is called: Your Baby’s Mum: A wellbeing plan for pregnancy and post-birth.
The resource, and accompanying Your Baby’s Mum campaign, is designed to help all pregnant women to think and talk about their mental wellbeing in the pregnancy and post-birth period, and to plan early for support and self-care after the birth. The tool is suitable and available for all pregnant women and can be completed at any point in pregnancy.
The tool will help pregnant women make a plan for their mental wellbeing and it will offer extra support to those who need it during pregnancy. It has a tailored route for women who have suffered a previous pregnancy loss or premature birth, which acknowledges the extra anxiety this can cause.
The Wellbeing Plan aims to:
- encourage self-care for emotional wellbeing
- help women identify symptoms of mental health problems
- help women prepare mentally for the post-birth period
- help women identify sources of support after the birth that can improve wellbeing.
The tool will also identify women who are at higher risk of poor mental health, offering a Tommy’s midwife call-back to women who may need extra support.
Jane Brewin, CEO of Tommy’s, said of the tool;
The importance of maternal mental health cannot be stressed enough. Suicide is the leading cause of death during the first year after pregnancy. Despite this, there is far more information provided to pregnant women on physical wellbeing than on mental wellbeing. The majority of resources and services that do exist tend to focus on women with an existing mental illness diagnosis, rather than helping those who develop problems during their pregnancy. The Tommy’s digital mental health tool will help women think about and plan for their mental wellbeing and get support if they need it - because the mother’s wellbeing affects the whole family.
With 700,000 women giving birth in the UK annually, mental health problems affect 1 in 5 women during pregnancy. According to the latest MBRRACE-UK report suicide is the leading cause of death during the first year after pregnancy. Women are more likely to be affected by mental illness during pregnancy and the postnatal period than at any other time of their lives, even those who have not experienced mental health problems previously.
Support for the tool
Professor Lesley Regan, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, says;
Giving parity of esteem to mental and physical health is crucial and this fantastic campaign will help to remind new mums that these feelings are very common, and support is available. Post-pregnancy health checks often focus on the baby, but we must support women to make sure they are taking care of their own health and mental wellbeing too. By providing women with tools, information and support, we hope they will feel more comfortable talking about how they are feeling and able to recognise when they might need the support of a friend or professional.
Presenter and broadcaster Angela Scanlon said:
During pregnancy we are bombarded with information about how to keep our bodies healthy, there is never very much chat about keeping our minds healthy. Then at a certain point the focus turns to labour; birth plans and playlists and snacks and smelly candles and anything that can make you feel relaxed during that marathon, it’s sometimes easy to forget that after that marathon you’ll have a little human to take home. The period after birth can be incredibly isolating and scary for new mothers who often feel like they’re “making it up”. There is no manual and every baby is different (we hear that often) but so is every mum. Some find it “easy”, take to it naturally. Others are overwhelmed, anxious and feel utterly ill equipped. Tommy’s offers support for Mums who feel like, for whatever reason, they just can’t cope. They remind mums that it is OK to not feel like you’ve got it all figured out and that actually the massive sense of vulnerability is real and valid and deserving of support.
Professor Louise Howard, Professor of Women's Mental Health, King's College London said;
I am delighted that Tommy's have produced this excellent resource for pregnant women. Mental health is increasingly discussed, and we and others found that around 1 in 5 women will experience a mental health problem in pregnancy. But there are still remarkably few resources to support women with their mental health and emotional well-being through pregnancy and after birth. This tool will be useful for any woman thinking about wellbeing, and should help in discussions with health professionals and getting support if needed.
Violinist and author Izzy Judd, said;
Having struggled with fertility, I was devastated when my first pregnancy ended in miscarriage. Having suffered from anxiety since I was 13, I was incredibly anxious and nervous, not only about a healthy pregnancy but fear around giving birth.
Izzy goes on to say;
During my pregnancy with Lola I was given plenty of information in preparation for the birth, but very little for the post birth period. This is a time that can feel very lonely and overwhelming as you navigate your way through the hormonal fog of the early days of motherhood, constantly questioning if you're doing a good enough job and struggling to trust your own instincts. I would have benefited from a digital wellbeing tool like this to help bring awareness around emotional wellbeing, the importance of self-care and help preparing mentally for one the most life changing moments you will ever experience.
Gill Walton, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, said;
It is incredibly important, indeed it can be life saving, that women get the support they need with their mental health during pregnancy and beyond. We know though that too often the system fails them so this campaign and tool are a really welcome innovation to enable parents to access information and support. This tool will also aid the work of midwives in discussing mental wellness and enabling them to offer even better support to the women they care for.
Notes to editors
Professor Louise Howard, Izzy Judd and Jane Brewin are available for interview. Please contact Hannah Blake at Tommy’s on 07730 039361 or [email protected]
1 in 4 women will lose a baby during pregnancy or birth. Tommy’s believes that every baby lost is one too many.
Tommy’s is a national charity that works tirelessly to reduce the UK’s unacceptable rates of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth. Tommy’s funds pioneering medical research to discover the causes of baby loss and helps women at every stage of their pregnancy journeys, supporting them and their partners with expert information and care. Tommy’s wants to pregnancy safer for all and ensure that excellent maternity care is available for every woman, every baby, everywhere.