NCT campaign reveals issues with postnatal checks
More than half of new mothers with mental health problems that they wanted to discuss did not feel able to do so at their postnatal check, according to the NCT.
The recommended six-week postnatal check-up is meant to uncover new mothers’ physical or mental health difficulties. Yet the NCT found that 54% of women who had emotional or mental health problems they wanted to talk about did not feel able to discuss them at their six-week postnatal check.
The charity for parents also found that a quarter of these mothers (24%) said there wasn’t time to talk about the concern during their appointment. And 60% said they were embarrassed or worried that the doctor would think they were incapable of looking after their baby.
As part of its Hidden Half campaign, the NCT is calling for more funding for the six-week check so that health professionals have the time to give every mother a full appointment, rather than squeezing it in with an examination of their baby.
NCT head of knowledge Sarah McMullen said: ‘It’s hard for mums to discuss their mental health when appointments are so short and mainly focused on their babies.
‘A postnatal appointment dedicated to mothers is long overdue and can give health professionals the time to make mums feel comfortable enough to open up and discuss their worries.’
Libby Binks from North Yorkshire said that she felt unable to speak up about her mental health: ‘At my six-week check, I was in a really bad way but the doctor only asked about the baby. I felt there wasn’t any time for me, even though I was really struggling to cope.’
The NCT has commissioned two reports into the importance of creating a safe environment for mothers to talk about their issues.
The reports also show that open questions are much more effective than questionnaires. Examples of good questions to encourage discussion include: How are you finding being a mum? How was it getting everything together this morning? And who’s looking after you?
The NCT is urging people to sign up to the Hidden Half campaign at nct.org.uk/hiddenhalf