Medacs Healthcare

FEB 12/2014

More midwives 'needed to improve postnatal mental health care'

More NHS jobs for midwives need to be created in order to improve the standard of care provided to new mothers suffering from mental health problems.

This is the view of the Royal College of Midwives, which has issued a new report showing this is becoming an increasingly prevalent issue. According to a survey conducted by the organisation, 59 per cent of women say they experienced feeling down or depressed after giving birth.

Of those who did experience a downturn in their mood, three-quarters said they did not seek help from a midwife or another member of the maternity team, while one-quarter of the overall respondents said they were not asked how they were coping.

This comes despite a separate survey of midwives revealing that nearly two-thirds said the main focus of postnatal care should be on emotional support, suggesting that staff need to be provided with more time and resources to fulfil all their responsibilities.

As such, the royal college has issued a number of recommendations to help tackle this problem, including ensuring there is a specialist perinatal mental health midwife in each maternity service provider, and establishing more mother and baby units to care for mothers with mental health difficulties.

It has also once again called for a widespread recruitment drive to address a serious midwifery shortage in the UK, with an estimated 4,800 more midwives needed to meet service demands in England alone.

Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: "We have serious, longstanding concerns about the levels of care for women with mental health problems. It is clear this is a high priority for maternity staff and it is clear they want to deliver a high quality service."

This comes in the same week the college backed NHS Change Day with a pledge to improve care for women using NHS maternity services through the continued efforts of its members across the country.

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