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‘Significant increase in poor mental health’ for new and expectant mothers

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Pregnant women and new mothers have experienced a “significant increase in poor mental health” during the coronavirus pandemic, which has exacerbated gaps in support, according to analysis.

Women have faced an increased risk of anxiety, depression, loneliness and suicidal thoughts as they navigate pregnancy and early motherhood during the pandemic, a review of evidence has found.

The Centre for Mental Health conducted a rapid review of evidence for the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA), and found that women of colour and those from poorer backgrounds had been particularly affected.

According to the review, the pandemic has created a mental health crisis for many new or expectant mothers, which is likely to have long-term consequences.

Women have faced increased pressures, with fears about giving birth alone without partners, of losing their job, and of they or their baby catching Covid-19.

Today’s report should serve as an ear-splitting warning siren about the dangers to women’s maternal mental health and potential risks to the wellbeing of their babies

Access to services reduced for pregnant women and new mothers, particularly at the start of the pandemic, it said.

At the same time, informal networks have been curtailed, with those struggling less able to lean on their friends, relatives and other mothers.

The MMHA, a network of over 100 national organisations, is calling on the Government to address gaps in perinatal services and protect and improve the wider system for new and expectant mothers.

Luciana Berger MMHA chairwoman, said: “Today’s report should serve as an ear-splitting warning siren about the dangers to women’s maternal mental health and potential risks to the wellbeing of their babies.

“The pandemic has placed additional challenges on new and expectant mums getting the care and support they need, taking many already stretched services to the point of breaking.

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