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NCT research: The impact of mums' mental health problems

HELP: New mothers (Photo credit: www.istockphoto.com)

NEW MUMS’ emotional or mental health problems can cause huge upset in family life and relationships, according to new research by NCT¹ as it continues its #HiddenHalf campaign to stop mothers suffering alone.

The UK’s largest parenting charity found that, in women who‘d suffered with an emotional or mental health problem during pregnancy or within a year after giving birth, more than eight in 10 (84%) felt their mental health problems had impacted on their relationship with their partner.

More than four in 10 (44%) of the women said their issues had affected their ability to bond with their baby and four in 10 (40%) thought their emotional problems had affected their relationship with their other children.

When it came to functioning in their daily lives, nearly six in 10 (59%), said they were unable to look after their child or children in the way they wanted and 86% felt their ability to cope with everyday life had been affected by their poor mental health.

Previous NCT research² has shown that half of new mothers suffer with an emotional or mental health problem during pregnancy or within a year of their child’s birth. This can include postnatal depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorder.

Mother of one, Libby Binks (37), who suffered with postnatal depression, said: “I would find any excuse to hand my daughter over to my husband and felt a huge sense of relief when he was responsible for her. But the more I pushed her away, the worse I felt. I thought I was poisoning their idyllic relationship with my sadness and inability to cope. “

NCT’s head of Knowledge Sarah McMullen commented: “Pregnancy, birth and early parenthood can have a huge emotional impact on many mums. This can be a real struggle and can have a devastating impact on the whole family. If mums think their relationships with their partner and children are suffering, it can lead to a steeper decline in their mental health as well as new feelings of guilt and failure.”

“Our research found that 82% of mums who received treatment said it helped which shows how important it is that problems are diagnosed and treated early to prevent them from escalating. It’s crucial that mums get the support they need.”

NCT’s #HiddenHalf campaign aims to bring maternal mental illness out of hiding and is calling for improvements to the six-week postnatal check up to aid diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues in new mums.

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