Some new and expectant mothers finding the Covid-19 crisis ‘very challenging’

This article from the journal.ie website https://www.thejournal.ie/ looks at how new and expectant mothers may find themselves struggling with mental health issues in the current pandemic situation. Remember if you are struggling with any issues you can contact Donegal Parent Support line on FREEPHONE 1800 112277.

You can also click the link to download Aware NI A guide to looking after the mental health of you and your baby

Some new and expectant mothers finding Covid-19 crisis ‘very challenging’

NEW AND EXPECTANT mothers should not hesitate to seek help for mental health issues, especially as they may worsen due to the pandemic, a consultant in the Rotunda Hospital has advised.

The hospital provides a specialist psychiatry service for women who are thinking of conceiving, those who are pregnant and for women up to a year after they give birth as part of its mental health hub.

Up to one in five women experience mental health difficulties in pregnancy or after birth, according to the HSE.

A consultant of perinatal psychiatry at the Rotunda Hospital, Dr Richard Duffy, said that the pandemic has had a negative impact on many peoples’ mental health so far.

Perinatal refers to any time from conception up to around a year after birth.

“A lot of the women who attend our service, some are in direct provision, homeless and some are in quite cramped accommodation and it’s very difficult for people in such circumstances to manage at a time like this after giving birth,” Duffy told TheJournal.ie. 

“For people in those situations, it has definitely been very challenging.

“A lot of people are very reliant on their parents – the mothers and fathers are relying on their parents for support and when they’re deprived of seeing them it adds an extra pressure.”

Depression and anxiety are the most common mental health problems in pregnancy, affecting about 10-15% of pregnant women.

The mental health hub in the Rotunda can help to treat a wide range of pre-existing and newly developed conditions including anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and birth trauma.

Duffy said in the first few weeks of the pandemic, some new mothers found it a bit easier as there was no pressure to see a lot of people after the birth of their child.

However, he said overall this time has had a negative impact on the mental wellbeing of pregnant people and mothers with newborn babies.

“We are seeing women who may be in hospital for four or five days or potentially longer for their birth with no visitors… This can be stressful,” Duffy said.

For any new or expectant mothers experiencing mental health difficulties, Duffy recommends contacting a GP or the service directly sooner rather than later.

“For a lot of mental health services, people feel there are a lot of barriers. We try to remove as many of the barriers as possible for women,” he said.

I think a lot of people are afraid of attending our services. It’s in no way a reflection of somebody’s ability to parent if they are experiencing mental health issues, it’s really common and in most places it’s very treatable.

“For people who are pregnant, it’s really important they try and treat mental health difficulties while they are pregnant instead of waiting to see if it goes away when the baby is born,” Duffy said.

The mental health hub in the Rotunda also provides some specialist services to Cavan General Hospital and Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.

This hub is comprised of consultants, non-consultant hospital doctors, mental health nurses, psychologists, social workers and administration staff members.

In terms of adjusting some services during the pandemic, a lot of consultations are done over the phone and some therapy is provided via video link.

A specialist clinic for birth trauma and tokophobia, which is the fear of birth, is also being developed in the Rotunda.

“Our midwives and our psychologist have really led the way with these clinics and it’s an emerging area,” Duffy said.

Remember if you need to talk to someone about any of these issue or other parenting challenges which are stressing you at the moment just FREEPHONE 1800 112277 for the Donegal Parent Support line.

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Infant Mental Health Awareness Week runs from June 13th-19th.           

This week provides an opportunity to focus attention on the wellbeing, social and emotional development of our babies and young children. It highlights the importance of early relationships and a relationship based approach to interventions with infants and families. As our understanding of IMH and its evidence base develops, so also does our knowledge of how to apply this knowledge and an ‘IMH lens’ to interactions with infants, parents and caregivers in health and social services. 

What is infant mental health?

Infant Mental health (IMH) refers to the healthy social and emotional development of Infants starting at conception up to three years of age.

The first 1000 days of life are recognised as a critical period of opportunity to support infant mental health. Decades of research have shown that it is the quality of the early caregiver relationship that is a significant determinant of the infant’s healthy social and emotional development and in turn physical health, right up to adulthood.

 

The National Healthy Childhood Programme has embedded IMH as the foundation of the development of its resources and in the approach of the delivery of the universal child health service. This embedding of key messages can be seen in the My Child suite of books (www.mychild.ie/books) and also on www.MyChild.ie  where key messages around bonding and relationship building have been embedded for the parent/caregiver.

 

In clinical practice the topic of IMH has been included for the first time in the National Standardised Child Health Record. To build on this, the National Healthy Childhood Programme have just completed a suite of three eLearning units which are now available on HSEland for healthcare practitioners / caregivers who are working with children and families.  

 

Throughout the week you will see videos and key IMH messaging being promoted on the HSE MyChild social media pages ( Facebook / Instagram ). Keep an eye out in the National Newspapers for articles from our experts also. (IrishTimes article)  

 

In addition The National Healthy Childhood Programme have developed a series of ten practical videos with HSE expert advice which are now available on YouTube and on the relevant pages on the www.mychild.ie website.

These videos (2-3 minutes each) are aimed at parents/guardians of children (0 – 3 years).

These new video resources are available here while lots more expert advice for every step of pregnancy, baby and toddler health can also be found at www.mychild.ie

There are a suite of posters available focusing on the promotion of IMH messaging to order from healthy.childhood@hse.ie

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