Siobhan Miller, founder of the Positive Birth Company and author of bestselling book ‘Practical Ways to Make Your Birth Better’ commented: “One in five women experience perinatal anxiety and depression during pregnancy or in the first year after giving birth. With the coronavirus lockdown in force, we sadly expect this number to rise significantly, especially with vital support groups, clinics and classes cancelled, and women often having to give birth alone due to self-isolation and social distancing.
“Perinatal anxiety is described as high levels of anxiety either during pregnancy or in the year after birth, which can include constantly worrying about the pregnancy or baby’s wellbeing, feeling on-edge, having a sense of dread, difficulty concentrating or racing thoughts, or engaging in behaviours or rituals to try and reduce negative thoughts, such as constantly checking the baby’s breathing throughout the night. Having a traumatic birth experience can make you significantly more at risk of experiencing postnatal anxiety and depression.
“It’s hugely important we take greater steps in acknowledging and caring for maternal mental health, and proactively put measures in place to not only support women, but make antenatal and postnatal education more accessible. All too often women suffer in silence and don’t access the help they need, often because they’re afraid to speak out or don’t know where to turn. This needs to change. Education and support needs to be more visible and accessible for all. Becoming a parent is a momentous moment in life, and ensuring it is a positive experience offers long term benefits for mother, baby and the wider family.
“While it may be challenging to seek professional help right now due to self-isolation and lockdown, there’s a number of steps women can take at home to help reduce symptoms of anxiety. Hypnobirthing techniques can go a long way in preventing and easing symptoms of antenatal and postnatal anxiety and can easily be completed at home. There’s also a number of free virtual tools, live sessions and Q&As out there enabling you to access expert help even with classes cancelled.”