Musgrove Park Hospital has launched a new service to provide specialist care for pregnant women with mental and emotional health needs, before and after they give birth.
The new service was developed by a group of midwives, psychiatrists and obstetricians who identified a gap in the provision of perinatal mental health services in Somerset – along with most of the country.
It means women with existing or emerging significant mental health issues will get more personalised care with clinicians across the hospital working together to support the new service.
As part of the new service women are seen by an obstetric clinical lead and specialist midwife at a weekly clinic. They help to develop an individualised care plan, which also has input from the community mental health team, the woman’s support network and the woman herself.
It is open to women who give birth at Musgrove Park Hospital, Bridgwater Hospital’s Mary Stanley unit, or at home.
Sally Bryant, a specialist perinatal mental health midwife at Musgrove Park Hospital, has told Tone FM:
“One in ten women in the UK are affected by a mental health disorder immediately before or after birth, with anxiety and depression the most common. In fact suicide is the biggest cause of maternal death.
“Giving birth is usually a time of happiness but we know that for some women the experience of pregnancy can cause heightened levels of emotion and adjustment that impact on their mental health, causing devastating effects for them, their babies and family.
“Previously only women who experienced severe mental health issues would be referred to a specialist service.
“As a hospital we wanted to do something differently to make sure all women with mental and emotional issues could get the care they needed, so a team of clinicians came together to look at how we could change the way we work.
“We have had some great feedback so far and women have told us it is having a positive impact on their mental and emotional wellbeing.”