Why do social services want to check on me after I've had the baby?

If you have a serious mental health problem, social services may want to check that you are OK and have the support you need.

Sometimes, parents worry that if social services want to check on them, it means that people think they can’t look after their baby. This is rarely the case. 

Some people also worry that if they ask for help with any mental health symptoms, people may think they are bad parents and can’t care for their baby. This is just not the case, either.

In fact, asking for help and getting the right treatment for any mental health condition means you are doing the best for your baby, which is a sign of a good parent.

Social services are there to help and support you if you're struggling with your mental health or with becoming a parent.

What will social services do?

Unless they think there is a real and immediate risk of your baby coming to harm, you will need to agree (consent) to have support from social services. 

Again, unless there’s an immediate risk to your baby, a referral to social services will be done with your knowledge, so they will arrange visits with you.

A social services assessment will:

  • check what support you have in place from family, friends and professionals
  • make sure there is a safe plan for your baby if you are too unwell to care for them
  • work out what they deem the level of risk to your baby to be, if indeed they feel there is one
  • discuss your family’s strengths and struggles, and work with you to improve on these.

If you don't have much support from loved ones in the event that you are unwell social services may be able to help you. 

They can also find someone trusted to look after your baby if you need to go into hospital and there is no space in a mother and baby unit. This is always a last resort.

Do I need to tell my doctor and midwife about my mental health history?

Mental health problems can often be managed through medication or talking (psychological) therapies. That’s why you should tell your midwife or doctor about a mental health condition you may have or have had. This is just as important even if you have been feeling well for a long time. It means your doctor or midwife can arrange any treatment or extra care you may need if you do become unwell again.

Having a baby is a stressful time for any new parent, but if you also have a mental health problem, you may find you need extra support after you give birth. Your midwife can help with a support plan for pregnancy and after the birth.

Will my baby be taken away?

Social services will never take a baby into care just because of a parent’s mental health. They will only ever place a baby into care if the parents can’t look after them safely (because of a mental health problem or for any other reason). 

That’s why it’s so vital to tell your doctor or midwife about your mental health history early on in your pregnancy, and to get help as soon as you feel you might need it. Your doctor and midwife have the best chance of helping you to manage parenthood alongside your mental health.

Healthcare professionals work really hard to get parents well so that they can look after their children. Don’t be afraid to tell your midwife, doctor or health visitor how you’re feeling at any point. 

More information

Family Rights Group (nd). What is good practice when doing a pre-birth assessment? Available at: https://frg.org.uk/get-help-and-advice/who/parents-to-be/what-is-good-practice-when-doing-a-pre-birth-assessment/ (Accessed 3 October 2023)  

Royal College of Psychiatrists (2018). Children's Social Services and Safeguarding. Available at: https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/problemsdisorders/postpartumpsychosis.aspx (Accessed February 2024) (Page last reviewed: 11/2018 Next review due: 11/2021)

Review dates
Reviewed: 22 February 2024
Next review: 22 February 2027