Thousands of mothers are missing out on essential mental and emotional health support due to fragmented and poorly funded public health services, despite guidelines to ensure better care is in place.
Pregnant and new mum’s mental health is suffering, and anxiety is at an all-time high as COVID-19 hits families hard. Many are now experiencing poor mental health because of the effects of social distancing and lockdown laws and this is impacting father’s, infants, and children’s mental health too.
The pandemic has caused a maternal mental health crisis. The fear of becoming sick was a big cause of stress, and there is also the stress of financial uncertainty, home-schooling. loneliness and the loss of physical and emotional support. Anxiety is 3 x higher than pre Covid, and parenting has never been so isolating. As we emerge from lockdown, it’s clear mothers are struggling and there hasn’t been the help available that they desperately need. Recent updates from an NCT survey found just 25% of new mothers are being asked about their mental and emotional health at their 6 week GP check, if they get one at all.
Enter Beyond Birth, a ground-breaking, pioneering programme designed to bridge the support gap between no help and waiting to get help for new mums. Written pre-covid, to bridge the already visible gap in mental health support services for all new parents, it’s a book and online or in person group/1:1 session for parents to help themselves and avoid unravelling. It is for anyone and everyone who is and isn’t already struggling with their mental health. Beyond Birth focuses on teaching the vital life skills to protect and preserve our mental state and help prevent mental ill-health. It takes into consideration the whole family and walks mums and partners through the emotive elements of becoming a parent and what they can do to help themselves cope when challenges arise. It covers emotions, connections, sleep, stress, relationships, identity and much more.
Beyond Birth founder, Sophie Burch, says, “As a perinatal therapist, I hear so many people say they wish they’d had mental health support or access to it sooner, and this is just not good enough. In my view, we must look at preserving parents’ mental health by introducing education and wellbeing practices into pregnancy and the early days, weeks and months with a baby, to really make the changes where they are needed. If mental health was treated just like physical health, and we were all persuaded to have our equivalent “5 a day”, then we would have far better outcomes for everyone, including our infants.”
The 26 new England-wide specialist NHS Perinatal Mental Health Units, recommended psychotherapies and counselling are working and needed, but may not be realistic or accessible for everybody. Sadly, the system seems unable to support thousands of women, fathers and their children and cases are growing daily. Beyond Birth promotes and supports parents with their mental wellbeing by showing them how to look after themselves from pregnancy and beyond and signposting into relevant specialist services if necessary. Parents often put their child or children’s emotional and physical needs before their own so Beyond Birth teaches how to reconnect with others around them, via online or in-person groups by giving them access to a range of materials such as simple mindfulness and visualisation audios, guided relaxation and breathing techniques, reflective Q&As, self-care techniques, journaling prompts, and online Facebook community.
Beyond Birth promotes normal mental health and wellbeing for new parents by bringing the programme to communities locally and globally through trained practitioners who already teach classes such as hypnobirthing, baby massage and baby yoga. The group leaders use the book and structured lesson plans to support parents with the aim to reduce the stigma around mental health and boost the feel-good factor for future generations. This helps mums to parent themselves so they can be more consciously aware and balanced for their children; better equipped to weather the Covid-19 storm and beyond.
Dr Caroline Boyd (Clinical Psychologist, Writer and Mother) says, “Beyond Birth offers much wisdom with an overarching focus on self-compassion. This is so important for new mums, particularly in the early days of the transition, when it can feel so hard to look after ourselves alongside our baby.”
(Many more testimonials from parents, professionals, and practitioners available on request. To find out more about Beyond Birth, visit https://www.themammacoach.com/beyond-birth-guide)