Who can help?


There are lots of people who can help if you think you are suffering from postnatal depression.
Please click on the options below for more information.

Please explore the following sections for more information:

A health visitor is a qualified public health nurse who works with families with pre-school children in the community. Their role is to support families by promoting healthy lifestyles and preventing ill health.

All families have an allocated named health visitor who will usually meet you in the antenatal period.

Your health visitor can offer support with low mood and depression by:

  • Offering a series of listening visits, this may include specific self-help measures
  • Referral to supportive agencies to help you to access activities which would benefit both you and your baby
  • Offering strategies to help you bond with your baby, such as baby massage tuition
  • Offering reassurance and practical ideas to care for your baby/child’s physical needs
  • Providing support and signposting to address other challenging aspects of life which may add to the cause of your depression, for example financial difficulties
  • Acting as a lead professional in partnership with yourself, in order to bring other workers who may be involved in your care together, to co-ordinate a plan which will produce the best outcomes for you, your baby/child and your family
  • Talk to your partner or friend about how they are feeling. Let her talk about her worries, thoughts and feelings. Don’t always try to reason with her as she may not be thinking logically, and don’t tell her to ‘pull yourself together’, she can’t help it
  • Encourage her to seek help. If not done already, encourage the mother to see her health visitor or GP. Offer to go with her for support
  • Reassure her that this is an illness that will get better
  • Try and learn a little about postnatal depression yourself, so you are better able to understand what is happening
  • Encourage rest. Continual broken sleep or lack of sleep can cause more irritability and can make depression worse.  Offer to help at night if you can, or encourage rest in the day when the baby sleeps
  • Give a caring hug or cuddle. Older children can be aware mummy is poorly so encourage them to help with cuddles to
  • Expect good and bad days. The good days will eventually appear more often and the bad days less
  • Offer practical help such as shopping, cleaning or looking after the baby. It is particularly important for the mother to eat well as depression can cause a poor appetite.  Offer to cook for her, providing healthy food
  • Don’t push her to do things or go to places she is not ready for
  • Spend time with her
  • Encourage her to relax. Allow her to focus on her own needs. Physical and social activities have been shown to help depression.  Suggest a long bath, hair appointment, massage, or a visit to a friend
  • Take time for yourself. Caring for someone with postnatal depression can be stressful at times. Try to continue with your own work, hobbies etc and talk to someone else if you need to

Good maternal mental health will support the healthy development of the child.

10-15% of new mothers experience postnatal depression.

Children’s centres offer a wide range of activities and child and family health services within their local communities. A variety of support and information can be obtained from these centres, which may include:

  • Parenting courses and support
  • Groups to support baby and toddler development through play
  • Baby massage
  • Access to health visiting team
  • Toy libraries and sensory rooms
  • Lone parent support groups
  • Breastfeeding groups
  • Twins and multiple birth support
  • Young expectant parents courses
  • Support groups for children with disabilities

Individual family support can be provided by family support workers and they can offer you practical and emotional support where needed.

Click here for details of your local children’s centre.

If you feel you may have some signs or symptoms of postnatal depression your GP will be able to support you by:

  • Asking a series of simple questions to confirm diagnosis
  • Performing blood tests to eliminate other possible causes of your symptoms (such as low iron levels)
  • Providing a non-judgemental listening ear. It is important to be honest with your GP so a clear diagnosis can be made. You may wish to make a double appointment to ensure you are not rushed
  • Providing signposting or a referral to appropriate treatments, such as self-help and advice or cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Exploring the options to prescribe medication and to offer regular medication reviews
  • Offering support through subsequent pregnancies
  • Baby massage is the process of rubbing an infant’s muscles and stroking the infant in a manner specifically designed for them. Children’s Health (2015). There are many proven benefits to both mother and baby of taking part in baby massage.
    • Midwives can offer extra listening visits and information regarding postnatal illness
    • Referral to mental health teams, GP and health visitor
    • Help with meeting other pregnant women through local aqua natal, exercise groups, mum and baby groups
    • They can direct you to specialist postnatal depression support groups (either in person, internet or phone).There are usually some in your local area, you can ask your midwife or health visitor

    There is also national help and support:

    National Childbirth Trust

    PANDAS Foundation

    House of Light

    • Although having a baby should be a happy time, it can also be a time of great change and stress. Some emotional changes are normal but sometimes problems persist.

      The type of help you need depends on the severity of the problem you are experiencing. Your health visitor, midwife or GP can help decide which sort of help is best for you.

      Sometimes this will include self-help or a talking therapy – sometimes this might include medication or a combination of treatments.

      Some mothers will need help from mental health services, especially if they have a pre-existing mental illness and are planning to have a baby. In some areas there are specialist perinatal mental health teams that support mothers in pregnancy and following the birth. The team usually include mental health nurses and consultant psychiatrists who have expert knowledge.

      In rare circumstances a mother may need admission to a mother and baby unit following assessment from specialist mental health services.

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