Mental health problems in pregnancy and the postnatal period are relatively common and are associated with an increase in adverse outcomes. Jane Henderson, Julie Jomeen and Maggie Redshaw have conducted a study, using data from an English survey, to describe the care received by women with mental health problems in pregnancy, and to describe the effects of support, advice and treatment on outcomes in the postnatal period.
They found that women with antenatal mental health problems were significantly more worried at the prospect of labour and birth, had lower satisfaction with the experience of birth, worse postnatal mental health, and indications of poorer attachment to their baby. They also found that these women received substantially more care than other women but they did not always view this positively.
These results suggest that health care professionals may need additional training to effectively support women with mental health problems during the perinatal period.
The number of disabled women choosing to become mothers is growing. However, stigma still exists about such women’s capabilities. Healthcare professionals may be concerned that these women will not be able to cope with pregnancy and motherhood.
The findings indicate some gaps in maternity care provision for these women relating to interpersonal aspects of care: communication, feeling listened to and supported, involvement in decision making, having a trusted and respected relationship with clinical staff. Women from all disability groups wanted more postnatal contacts and help with infant feeding.
Early labour is usually a slow process during which women, especially if it is their first baby, may feel distress and anxiety, and lose confidence in their ability to cope.
NPEU researchers Maggie Redshaw and Jane Henderson have published the findings of a mixed methods study exploring how women from different backgrounds and cultures differed in their experience of early labour care, using survey data collected in 2014.
They found that women from Black and minority ethnic groups reported greater worry about early labour, but most women who contacted the hospital at the start of labour perceived the advice received as helpful. Many women reported that not being allowed to come into hospital or to stay in hospital if they were not thought to be in active labour was very distressing.
You can read more about the findings of this study in the BMJ Open.