Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week

May 5, 2023

Monday 1 – Sunday 7 May 2023

Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week is a week-long campaign dedicated to talking about mental health problems before, during and after pregnancy.

The recent 2022 MBRRACE Report showed that maternal suicide remains the leading cause of direct maternal death.

Unplanned pregnancies have been shown to be associated with maternal mental health, including increased levels of maternal depression, parental stress and postnatal depression (1, 2), as well as also being associated with poorer mental health outcomes later in life (3). Parental mental health can also affect things like bonding, and even the child’s health and development (4).

One arm of the P3 study is the implementation of the London Measure of Unplanned Pregnancy (LMUP) into antenatal care. The LMUP is an easy way of measuring how planned or unplanned a pregnancy is. It has been completed by tens of thousands of women around the world, in over a dozen languages, and has been shown to be easily completed by, and acceptable to, women.

Including these questions in antenatal care will enable midwives to get to know the circumstances of a woman and her pregnancy to personalise her care and reduce adverse outcomes. The pilot implementation of these questions in University College London Hospital and Homerton University Hospital has shown that the questions are acceptable to both midwives and women. Focus groups with midwives also revealed that they found the questions helped them to get to know the woman and her situation better, helping to identify women who might benefit from additional support. For example, a women with a low LMUP score, indicating an unplanned pregnancy, could be referred to the mental health midwife, local health visiting team or family support. This would mean that mental health problems are picked up earlier and dealt with more effectively.

1.         Muskens L, Boekhorst M, Kop WJ, van den Heuvel MI, Pop VJM, Beerthuizen A. The association of unplanned pregnancy with perinatal depression: a longitudinal cohort study. Arch Womens Ment Health. 2022;25(3).

2.         Bahk J, Yun S-C, Kim Y-m, Khang Y-H. Impact of unintended pregnancy on maternal mental health: a causal analysis using follow up data of the Panel Study on Korean Children (PSKC). BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. 2015;15(1).

3.         Herd P, Higgins J, Sicinski K, Merkurieva I. The Implications of Unintended Pregnancies for Mental Health in Later Life. Am J Public Health. 2016;106(3).

4.         Brophy S, Todd C, Rahman MA, Kennedy N, Rice F. Timing of parental depression on risk of child depression and poor educational outcomes: A population based routine data cohort study from Born in Wales, UK. PloS one. 2021;16(11).