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mothers and mental health

mothers and mental health

mental health problems can happen at any stage of motherhood. It's good to know the different types of mental illness that can occur and what resources there are to support you.

There is a very common link between being a mother and having mental health problems. While mental health problems can occur at any stage of motherhood, research shows between 10% and 20% of mothers develop mental health problems during pregnancy or within a year of giving birth.

Having a baby and being a mother can bring up feelings of isolation, loneliness, anxiety or depression. You are not alone in these feelings, and there are many sources of support out there.

common myths

I’m the only one that feels this way

The truth is, you aren’t. Many will experience mental illness following birth and you’re not alone. It’s important to access peer support and talk to other mums who are facing similar challenges.

people will think I’m a bad parent

There is a lot of stigma around mental health and becoming a mother. You are not a failure or a bad parent. Seeking support for your mental health is a sign of strength, resilience and showing that you in fact a good parent.

my newborn child will be taken away

Mothers often don’t talk about their feelings after giving birth, which gives unwanted thoughts that include their child being taken away from them. Seeking support will help you, your family and your child.

Mental health conditions can occur

There’s a popular misconception that mothers will only face one type of mental illness in the form of ‘the blues’. If you’re feeling down or depressed, it could be something that you need to address by getting support or your symptoms could get worse. Everyone is different and people can face a wide range of conditions following birth. Some of the conditions following birth may include:

Postnatal and antenatal depression

Postnatal depression can occur after pregnancy and antenatal depression can occur during it – they share similar experiences and symptoms. The main symptoms of these are feeling down, low self esteem, disturbed sleep, and loss of energy. Some mothers also experience feelings of being detached from their baby or partner.

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) can occur at any stage of pregnancy or post-pregnancy. This mental health condition involves both obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are unwanted thoughts, and compulsions are actions you feel you must do.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that is caused by a traumatic event, such as giving birth. This mental health condition can make living day-to-day difficult, which is amplified when caring for a newborn.

If you are experiencing these mental health problems, it is important to look after yourself, for you and your child.

Remember, you are not alone

It is important to remember how common these conditions are to mothers, and experiencing them does not make you a bad parent. Thinking about these conditions shows that you are thinking about your baby – that’s good parenting.  Here are some support suggestions:

Build a support network around you

Opening up about your feelings to a loved one will remind you that you do not have to go through these experiences alone. You can also talk to other mothers who may have had similar experiences. Talking may help clear your mind and your loved one will want to help you seek emotional support.

Prioritise self-care 

Take care of your physical and emotional wellbeing. Exercise, eat well and ensure enough sleep. A family walk not only promotes good mental health but also enhances your bond with your child. Here are some other exercises that can boost your mood and promote self-care. 

Talk to a medical professional

It is never too late to seek help. Medical professionals such as your midwife, health visitor or GP are incredibly knowledgeable about these common mental health conditions and will be able to direct you to further sources of support.

Seek Financial Support

Being a mom can be very expensive with studies suggesting that raising a child can cost you up to £160,000. Fortunately, there are benefits that you can access as a father such as the Best Start Grant and the Scottish Child Payment.

For more information, our Mental Health and Money Advice service can provide information about other benefits that you can apply for.


Our Advice and Support Service is open Monday to Friday, 10 am to 4 pm, where advisers can signpost you to local support that most fits your needs, including our Change Mental Health services. We offer initial advice on money worries and help to deal with emergencies.

Contact 0808 8010 515, email us at or fill out the enquiry form on the Advice and Support Service page.

You can also contact Association for Post Natal Illness (ANPI) or National Childbirth Trust (NCT) for further support.

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