With more than 1 in 10 women developing a mental illness in the perinatal period, it’s even more important in these uncertain times that women during pregnancy and following childbirth are able to access the support and care they and their families need.

It’s normal for new parents to feel overwhelmed and anxious at the best of times. Having a newborn during a pandemic can bring with it additional fears and anxiety. And that’s why it’s so important to look after yourself:

Take care of yourself

When you look after your body this will help to look after your mind. Make sure that you are eating well and exercising to a level that works for you as this will help to lift your mood, help with sleep difficulties and boost energy levels.

Take one day at a time 

At the moment, it is difficult to know what lies ahead. With a new baby, days and nights can feel daunting and endless. And just as you have the hang of something, everything changes with a new developmental shift! When we are spending our days mostly in the home and not meeting up with other people, the days may seem even longer and more isolating. Try to focus just on today, and within that see if you can find the good bits amongst the tougher times. Make a note or take a picture of the things that have made you smile to help you through when it is feeling more challenging.

Sleep!

Sleep little and often if you can while your baby is sleeping – leave the jobs that can wait and if possible, ask others in your household to help out with jobs that need doing.

Make space for yourself

Carve out some time for yourself, even if it is just a few minutes with a cup of tea sitting by a window and looking at the clouds, or talking to a friend on the phone.

Don’t be hard on yourself 

Remember, you are the person your baby needs and your baby won’t be worrying about the things that you are feeling like you’re getting wrong.

It's OK to ask for help

Ask for help from a trusted family member or friend – don’t feel bad about asking for help. It is hard at the best of times with a new baby, all the more so at the moment when it is not possible to meet up with friends, visit your family, go to a drop-in, or just go and sit in the park or a coffee shop for a change of scene.

There's support out there for you

Just because you are staying at home doesn’t mean support is not available.

The specialist team at the Association of Infant Mental Health (UK) has written a factsheet for parents to help them in these difficult times: ‘Emotional Survival for Infants and Their Parents’

You can also find support at the following organisations:

Perinatal Illness UK
www.pni-uk.com 

PNI UK
www.pni.org.uk/

Association for Post-Natal Illness
020 7368 0868
www.apni.org

Royal College of Psychiatrists
http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/problemsdisorders.aspx

Maternal Mental Health Alliance
http://maternalmentalhealthalliance.org.uk 

Best Beginnings 
https://www.bestbeginnings.org.uk/

National Breastfeeding Helpline
0300 100 0212
http://www.nationalbreastfeedinghelpline.org.uk/

Lullaby Trust
Safer sleep for babies
http://www.lullabytrust.org.uk

CRY-SIS
For parents of babies who cry a lot
Helpline: 08451 228 669
https://www.cry-sis.org.uk/

Family Lives (Parentline)
Any aspect of parenting or family life
Helpline: 0808 800 2222

Email support: [email protected]
https://www.familylives.org.uk/

NCT Helpline
Pregnancy, birth and feeding your baby
Helpline: 0300 330 0700
https://www.nct.org.uk/

Bliss
For parents of babies born early or sick 
Email support: [email protected]
https://www.bliss.org.uk/

Child Bereavement Trust
For parents of babies who die 
Helpline: 0800 02 888 40
https://www.childbereavementuk.org/

Contact 
For families with a disabled child
Helpline: 0808 808 3555
https://contact.org.uk/

Down’s Syndrome Association
For people with Down's Syndrome, parents and families 
Helpline: 0333 1212 300
https://www.downs-syndrome.org.uk/

Multiple Births Foundation
Multiple Births

Twins Trust
For parents of twins, triplets and more
Helpline: 0800 138 0509
Email: [email protected]
https://twinstrust.org/

Gingerbread
For single parents
https://www.gingerbread.org.uk/

Relate
Relationship counselling, support and information for all relationships
http://www.relate.org.uk/

One Plus One 
Relationship support 
https://www.oneplusone.org.uk

SANDS
Stillbirth and neonatal death
Helpline: 0808 164 3332
Email: [email protected]
https://www.sands.org.uk/

Tommy’s – the baby charity
Pregnancy, baby loss, preterm birth
http://www.tommys.org/

Refuge
24-hour National Domestic Abuse Freephone Helpline: run in partnership with Women's Aid
Helpline 0808 2000 247
http://refuge.org.uk/

Scottish Women's Aid
For women experiencing domestic abuse
24-hour free Scottish Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline
Helpline: 0800 027 1234
Email help: [email protected]
https://womensaid.scot/

Women's Aid
For women experiencing domestic abuse
24-hour National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline: run in partnership with Refuge 
Helpline: 0808 2000 247
Email support: [email protected]
https://www.womensaid.org.uk/