Suicide is the leading cause of death in new mothers

The latest MBRRACE-UK report looks at the reasons why women die during and just after pregnancy, and what women and their healthcare teams can do to reduce risk.

A shadow of a heavily pregnant woman holding her bump

Pregnancy news, 01/11/2018

MBRRACE-UK look into the deaths of mums and babies in the UK, including why they happened and when.

Their latest report ‘Saving Lives, Improving Mothers’ Care’ was released today. It looks at the deaths of mothers during pregnancy or in the year that followed, between 2014 and 2016. MBRRACE-UK also examined the care these women received and analysed the trends.

Mental health

Suicide was found to be the fifth most common cause of death during pregnancy and 6 weeks after birth. However, it was the leading cause of death during the first year after pregnancy.

How to know if someone is mentally unwell

Speak to someone if you or someone you know has the following thoughts or feelings:

    • New thoughts or feelings that you’ve never had before, which make you feel disturbed or nervous
    • Constantly feeling useless, like you can’t cope, or feeling distant from your baby
    • Thoughts of suicide or violent self-harm
    • Feeling like any of the above are getting worse.

Tommy's Pregnancy and Post-birth Wellbeing Plan is a resource to help women put their thoughts into words and help them to have conversations with health professionals or loved ones.

Blood clots and BMI

The report highlighted that women who are overweight or obese during pregnancy are at a higher risk of blood clots. The best way women can reduce their risk is to bring their BMI into a safe range before pregnancy. However, there are ways to manage weight safely during pregnancy which could help.

Other illnesses

Although less common, the report also touched on other illnesses like cancer and stroke which can happen during pregnancy. They stressed the importance of empowering women to always ask about any symptoms they may be worried about during pregnancy.

Tommy’s symptom checker has information about some of the more common pregnancy symptoms and encourages pregnant women to speak up if something doesn’t feel right.

If you have a condition talk to your doctor before stopping contraception

MBRRACE raised concerns that many women stop taking medication for existing physical and mental health conditions when they find out they’re pregnant out of fear that they’re unsafe. However, many medicines are safe during pregnancy and it may cause more harm by not taking them.

Women with existing conditions should ideally speak to their doctor when planning a pregnancy to find out if medication or treatment needs to change. If this isn’t possible, women should continue to take medication they have been prescribed and talk to a doctor as soon as they can after finding out they’re pregnant.

Tommy’s new Planning for Pregnancy tool gives women all the information they need to know before pregnancy.

"The MBRRACE report shows how important it is to reach women both before they are pregnant and during pregnancy to alert them how to reduce their risks in pregnancy to ensure they get care if and when they need it. Tommy’s has recognised this need for some time and make pregnancy information available to everyone including those in high risk groups who will benefit most. We urge those involved in the care of women to make use of Tommy’s freely available resources, particularly the new Planning for Pregnancy tool, which gives tailored support and information to women before pregnancy."Jane Brewin, CEO at Tommy’s

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