Gaps in support for new mothers and pregnant women in Scotland

Our new report Getting it Right for Mothers and Babies has highlighted gaps in support for pregnant women and new mothers in Scotland.

Mother with childBetween 10 and 15% of women in Scotland are affected by mental ill-health during pregnancy and after their child's birth.

Our Getting it Right for Mothers and Babies report calls on Scotland to give babies the best start to life by providing more specialised support across the nation for mothers.

Key findings

  • 71% of health boards in Scotland still do not have any midwives or health visitors with accredited perinatal mental health training.
  • only five Scottish health board (36%) have a specialist community perinatal mental health service (SCPMHS), only four of which have permanent funding.
  • half of health boards do not have a clear Integrated Care Pathways in place for women at risk, while a quarter do not have established standards for referral and management of women with or at rick of mental illness in pregnancy and the postnatal period.

The right support is vital

Clare from Glasgow stayed in a specialist perinatal mental health unit after her child was born and says was lucky to receive the help she needed.

"I felt so guilty. This was supposed to be a special time for us to all bond as a family and I was taking my child away from my partner.

"Other mums were meeting for coffee and taking their children to baby groups - that's what we should have been doing."

"Group sessions helped me realise that I wasn't alone. I could identify with other mums' experiences and what they were feeling. That peer support is so important.

"After leaving the unit I had weekly home visits from health professionals. My family were also really supportive.

"The bond between us is extra special because of what we've been through. We have lots of laughs and my daughter says we are best friends. I am so lucky to have had such support.

"Lots of midwives and GPs don't know what specialist services are available and there aren't enough across Scotland. It really is a postcode lottery, with too many women suffering in silence."

Chair of Maternal Mental Health Scotland Elaine Clark said

"This report highlights that significant gaps remain, particularly in the lack of community specialised services.

"Scotland is uniquely placed to plan services to meet local and national needs, and this report sets out a framework for how they can be delivered."

Head of Scotland services for the NSPCC Matt Forde said

"Scotland is making progress in supporting pregnant women and new mothers with mental health problems that the other UK nations.

"By addressing the gaps that remain, we can support mothers at this vulnerable and important time to give their children the very best start to life."

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