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Emotional health and wellbeing for new parents and carers

Being a parent can come with lots of challenges and is even more difficult if you’re also experiencing your own mental health problems. Children can often pick up on your mood if you’re feeling anxious or low and sometimes this can affect their behaviour too. While many parents are able to give their children safe and loving care, sometimes their mental health problems affect their ability to cope with family life and they may need extra support.

Having a baby is a huge life changing experience. Whether this is your first child or not, becoming a parent can cause a whole range of emotions. You may be feeling happy, sad, tired or tearful, or sometimes can’t describe how you are feeling. You may be worried about becoming a parent and wonder how relationships in the family may change. This could be linked to thoughts of your own childhood or your current family situation.

Many of these feelings are mild and will resolve with time, but sometimes if they are persistent you may need to speak to your health visitor, GP or midwife to get some additional support as it may be that you are experiencing what is known as a perinatal mental illness.

Whilst depression and anxiety disorders are the most common perinatal mental illnesses, you may be experiencing other conditions or, like many people, may have experienced mental health difficulties prior to having a baby. It is important that you feel able to speak to a family member, friend or health professional if you have any concerns.

Condition Specific Information - *click below to expand the sections*

  • Baby blues

  • Depression and Anxiety

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

  • Postpartum Psychosis

  • Birth Trauma

  • Other perinatal mental illnesses

What you can do to help

  • Speak to your GP, health visitor or midwife about how you are feeling. It is important to get the right support in place.

  •  Try to establish a daily routine, getting enough rest and sleep as well as time to do something for yourself, even if it’s just having a cup of tea, or a soak in the bath.

  • Try to get some gentle regular exercise, or try meditation, mindfulness or deep-breathing.

  • Try to stick to a healthy diet, stop smoking and reduce your alcohol intake -you’ll be surprised how much difference this makes.

  • Make a list and set yourself small realistic goals for each day -don’t try to be super-mum or dad.

  • Find out what is happening locally so that you can meet other parents and feel less isolated.

  • Join online chats or support groups to find others who can share your experiences.

  • Link to our webpage ‘Emotional Development 0-6 months’ for help in responding to your baby.

  • Try to keep a regular routine with good sleeping habits. See: 

  • Try to stay active –this helps to boost your immune system and can help encourage your children to exercise too. Try walking or if you are not able to get out, sit by a window and get some fresh air.

  • Keep in touch with friends and family and let them know how you’re feeling. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

  • Don’t try to hide your feelings from your children. Try explaining in a way that they might understand e.g. talking about ‘big feelings’ and reassuring them that it’s not their job to look after you. Children say they are less anxious if they are told the truth.

  • If your mental health problems are getting worse seek advice and support from your GP or other health professional. 


Who can help?

  • If you’re worried about your mental health, a health professional in our team will be able to offer advice and support. You can Call Us on 0300 029 50 50 or Text Us on 07520 649887 to start a conversation. **Monday to Friday 9.30am - 4.30pm excluding bank holidays.**
  • You can refer yourself to the Psychological Wellbeing Service if you are  aged 17 and over and are suffering from mild to moderate depression or anxiety disorder including generalised anxiety, social anxiety, post-traumatic stress, health anxiety, panic, phobia or obsessive compulsive disorder. Call 0300 300 0055 or complete an online referral:
  • For severe or complex mental health needs your health visitor or GP can refer you to the Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Service for further assessment and treatment.
  • If you are  in a mental health crisis and need urgent help please call the First Response Service on 111 and select Option 2.
  • You might be in crisis if:
    • You are thinking of hurting yourself or your baby or suicide seems the only option
    • Someone you know has made threats to hurt you or someone else.
    • You are experiencing extreme distress that seems overwhelming.

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Delivering excellence in Children and Young People’s Services:
a partnership between Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust and
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust.
Funded by Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council

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