70% of new mothers experience mental health issues during or after pregnancy

70% of new mothers experience mental health issues during or after pregnancy
Nearly two-thirds (63%) of new mums say their self-esteem has decreased since becoming a parent (Photo: Getty Images)

A startling 70 per cent of new and expectant mothers experience some form of mental health issue during or after their pregnancy, new research has revealed.

The study – conducted by pregnancy and parenting event series, The Baby Show, – revealed that many new mothers in the UK feel that they are at breaking point.

The most commonly experienced issues included anxiety (36 per cent) and post-natal depression (12 per cent).

Nearly two thirds (63 per cent) of new mums asked said that their self-esteem had decreased since becoming a parent, while fewer than one in 10 (nine per cent) felt more confident following the birth of their child.

89% think the government needs to invest more money

From the 1,000 new and expectant mums asked, 89 per cent think the government needs to invest more money to support new parents with their mental health, and almost one in four (23 per cent) said action should be taken urgently.

When it comes to support, 51 per cent of new mums who are struggling chose to turn to their family instead of professionals, including their GP or midwife (30 per cent).

Mental health campaigner, TV and radio broadcaster, Neev Spencer, commented on the importance of looking after your mental health during pregnancy and beyond.

“Maintaining your mental health in pregnancy and beyond comes from knowledge of the condition and what you can do to prevent things spiralling,” she said.

“In my own experience, I wasn’t educated enough in postnatal anxiety and therefore didn’t know I had the condition. I feel it’s vital to pass on knowledge and expertise to pregnant women so they can understand and better prepare themselves.

“No one is exempt from some form of ‘baby blues’ because every new mother will be affected by a hormonal imbalance of some kind. However, knowing the signs and the tips to help and reach out to people can be extremely helpful.”

65% of women fear the unknown

The biggest concerns among the women surveyed included the fear of the unknown (65 per cent), the pain of giving birth (52 per cent), and medical complications (46 per cent).

After the baby arrived, money worries (31 per cent), isolation and loneliness (18 per cent), and fear that they would be unable to cope (12 per cent) were the top concerns.

“Whilst I’m pleased and thankful there is so much more awareness of mental health issues than there was 20 years ago, we need to ensure we have resources to meet this demand,” consultant psychiatrist and guest speaker at The Baby Show, Dr Sarah Vohra, commented on the latest statistics.

“If you are a new mum, perhaps a worried partner, and you are struggling pre-, peri- or post-pregnancy with negative thoughts, it is important to speak out to make sure you get the right support to get you through.”

If you are worried about your immediate health and wellbeing, or need to speak with someone now, the Samaritans offer judgement-free listening, 24/7 on 116 123.