Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week: experts reveal worries for new mums to Kate Middleton

Illnesses such as antenatal depression, postnatal depression and anxiety can develop during or after pregnancy

Illnesses such as antenatal depression, postnatal depression and anxiety can develop during or after pregnancy

Becoming a new mum is challenging at any time, let alone during lockdown. To mark Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week, which takes place from today (May 4) until May 10, and aims to create wider awareness of maternal mental health and signposts support for parents, the Duchess of Cambridge spoke with parents, midwives and other health experts about the impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on new mothers and their families.

Mental illness remains one of the biggest killers of women during pregnancy and after birth if left untreated, and figures show up to 20 per cent of women develop a mental health problem during pregnancy or within a year of giving birth, while seven in ten women will underplay or hide the severity of their perinatal mental illness.

These illnesses can include antenatal depression, postnatal depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), postpartum psychosis and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

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Kate, 38, made a Zoom call to midwives at Kingston Hospital last week. 'Social isolation' was among the biggest worries from healthcare professionals, who said that many new parents aren't able to see their family members leading up to or after the birth. Making social connections is so important for pregnant women and new mums, so not being able to attend playgroups and ante-natal classes is likely to have heightened anxieties.

Confirming this, an expert told Kate: 'Social isolation creates anxiety because we all know how important those key relationships are in those early days.'

The theme of Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week this year is 'supporting mums during difficult times.' According to a children's centre in Guernsey, up to one in four mothers experience anxiety or depression, and given the current situation, these figures may be even higher. Now, more than ever, new mums need support.

If you or someone you know is suffering with mental health problems in pregnancy or following childbirth, see Parents in Mind or call 0300 330 0700

Olivia – who rebranded as Liv a few years ago – is a freelance digital writer at Marie Claire UK. She recently swapped guaranteed sunshine and a tax-free salary in Dubai for London’s constant cloud and overpriced public transport. During her time in the Middle East, Olivia worked for international titles including Cosmopolitan, HELLO! and Grazia. She transitioned from celebrity weekly magazine new! in London, where she worked as the publication’s Fitness & Food editor. Unsurprisingly, she likes fitness and food, and also enjoys hoarding beauty products and recycling.