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Tommy’s launches an emotive video encouraging women to ask for help

Between 10-15% of all pregnant women suffer with mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, yet data suggests that disorders in pregnancy may not be diagnosed until the postnatal period, or even at all.

To encourage these women to seek help, Tommy’s, the UK leading baby charity, has launched a thought-provoking video about mental health in pregnancy.

The video, named The face, follows the story of a pregnant woman who exemplifies the real-life experiences of anxiety and depression felt by many women during pregnancy and early motherhood.

Tommy’s wants to see mental health treated on parity with physical health in pregnancy and urges women to look for help if they feel upset more than they feel happy.

Antenatal depression underdiagnosed, despite 1 in 10 pregnant women being affected

  • Around 11% of women experience depressive symptoms in pregnancy, and
  • Around 5% of women have a major depressive disorder, and
  • Around 13% of women of experience Anxiety disorders in the perinatal period are also common,

Although rates do not differ between pregnant and non-pregnant women, it has been suggested that identification and treatment are lower in pregnancy. The data also suggests that in a third of cases, ‘postnatal’ depression actually starts during the pregnancy but it is often not recognised or treated at this point.

Symptoms of depression and anxiety include feeling sad, hopeless, tearful, irritable and losing interest in things previously enjoyed. Some of these are also common symptoms of pregnancy which can make it difficult to identify a more serious problem. Persistent feelings that last beyond a couple of weeks should be checked out by a health professional such as the midwife, GP or health visitor.

Tommy’s has developed information for women around mental health in pregnancy, including advice on when you should look for help. Visit Tommy’s by clicking here .

The Tommy’s midwives have also put together some top tips to look after your mental health during pregnancy.

  • Rest and focus on your baby. Take time out for you to do something you enjoy, improves your mood or helps you to relax
  • Talk about how you feel with someone, a family member, friend, health professional
  • Eat well – eat a variety of different foods and plenty of fruit and veg to get all the nutrients you and your baby need
  • Take some exercise
  • Take some time to think about and prepare for the birth and life with a new baby, use the helpful Wellbeing Plan
  • Rest when you can and try to get regular sleep
  • Seek expert advice for worrying matters such as money, housing, employment and relationships

Katrina Ashton, Specialist midwife for antenatal and postnatal mental health, Medway, says: “Mental health problems in pregnant women can go unrecognised and untreated. This can have implications not just for the woman both during and after her pregnancy, but also potentially for her baby. Whilst the vast majority of babies are not affected there is an increased risk of emotional, behavioural or learning difficulties when a mother has a prolonged period of stress, anxiety or depression in pregnancy. As soon as a woman experiences any of these types of psychological problems, she should speak to her midwife or GP to help prevent any complications during and after her pregnancy.”

The Face video is available here: #talkaboutit #everyonesbusiness

  • Facebook webchat on Wednesday 8 July, from 1-2pm, Tommy’s midwives will be hosting a webchat on the topic of antenatal mental health, to give advice to anyone who might be concerned or have questions. The webchat will take place here: .
  • Tommy’s Wellbeing Plan: Tommy’s Wellbeing Plan has been developed for pregnant women to start thinking about how they feel and what support they might need in their pregnancy and after the birth. They can download and complete it themselves, or complete it in conjunction with their midwife. Download the Wellbeing Plan.
  • About Tommy’s baby charity: Tommy’s funds medical research into the prevention of premature birth, stillbirth and miscarriage. The charity provides advice and treatment through clinics, their website and a free pregnancy helpline (0800 0147 800). Tommy’s believes every pregnancy should have a happy ending and that every baby should have the best chance of being born healthy.