Mums suffer in silence due to lack of support
A survey of mums across the UK has revealed postnatal depression is not widely discussed by health professionals when preparing women for motherhood.
Despite the NHS citing more than one in ten cases of postnatal illness in this country, many women are going under the radar and are not prepared for the symptoms they may experience in the event of experiencing postnatal depression (PND).
The survey has been conducted by The SMILE Group (Supporting Mums in Living with their Emotions) – a community support group set up by mums affected by PND in Cheshire.
42 per cent of mums who responded felt uncomfortable filling out the Edinburgh Test in the presence of their health visitor. The test is designed to give professionals an indication of a mum’s mood and flags up the likelihood of PND.
Results also showed 61 per cent of mothers had no recollection of covering PND in their antenatal classes, which are designed to provide parents with invaluable advice about the physical and emotional impact of childbirth.
Highlighting the lack of public information regarding PND, only 36 per cent of mums asked fully understood the condition and its symptoms and 28 per cent were unsure if they had experienced it or didn’t seek medical help.
Natalie Nuttall, chair of The SMILE Group, said: “I had pretty severe PND and was surprised by the lack of information out there for mums. We set up the group as a valuable community resource to plug a clear gap in services and provide consistent support for mums at one of the most vulnerable times of their lives.
“Not only is there inconsistency in diagnosis and treatment of PND, but the worrying issue is the lack of awareness about the symptoms and the stigma that is attached to the condition. It’s important this issue is raised on the national agenda and taken more seriously.”
Of those mums surveyed who experienced PND, only 25 per cent felt comfortable discussing it, while a worrying 14 per cent didn’t tell anyone they were experiencing symptoms.
The research also highlights a gap in local services to support mums experiencing PND, with only 18 per cent of women citing they might not or wouldn’t attend a local support group if it were made available to them.
The SMILE Group is working with health professionals and postnatal depression charities to ensure mums have better access to local services in the event of postnatal depression, to signpost professional medical advice and offer self-help tips to assist in recovery.
The SMILE Group meets every Friday from 10-12 noon at Hurdsfield Children's Centre, Hulley Road, Macclesfield.
Follow @thesmile group on twitter.