If you are thinking of having a baby, your GP will be able to offer information and advice. Some young people's services, sexual health clinics or pharmacists may also be able to offer you advice.

Becoming pregnant is a big life event and whether planned or unplanned, it is completely natural if you find yourself feeling a mix of emotions during this time. The NHS has a useful pregnancy guide containing all you need to know to have a healthy and happy pregnancy.

Explore more of the NHS website for a variety of resources that can be used to support you with different aspects of your life during pregnancy:

Your mental health

You can help yourself stay mentally well while pregnant and preparing for the birth of your baby.

  • talk to people about how you’re feeling - it’s okay to say you’re finding things hard, don’t be afraid to ask for help
  • set realistic goals and take small steps that allow you to note progress along the way
  • get a good night’s sleep and eat regular healthy meals - everyone feels better when they’re well rested and eating well
  • be active - being outside and active's great for your mental health

All pregnant women have physical checks at antenatal appointments and some mental health checks. They could be conversations about how you’re feeling or a questionnaire.

If you are worried about your safety or the safety of others, including your baby, tell your midwife or GP immediately. If your GP practice is closed, phone the NHS 111 service.

You may be wondering how your pregnancy will affect you while you work. The Health and Saftey Executive have created guidance around your health and safety at work which you can read here. It includes information on the following:

  • How to inform your employer
  • Workplace risk assessments
  • Raising your own safety concerns
  • Breastfeeding in the workplace
  • Welfare and general advice

Perinatal mental health (PMH) problems are those which occur during pregnancy or in the first year following the birth of a child. Perinatal mental illness affects up to 20% of new and expectant mums and covers a wide range of conditions.

If left untreated, mental health issues can have significant and long-lasting effects on the woman, the child, and the wider family.

Getting help and support

Talk to your GP

You can always talk to your doctor about your mental health. They can discuss your options for treatment and support, refer you to services and prescribe medication.

Antenatal care

You are likely to be in contact with several different health professionals while you are pregnant. At some point, they should ask you about your mental health and how you're feeling during pregnancy. If they don't ask, you can always bring up any concerns you have.

The NHS website has information about the health professionals who may support you during pregnancy. You can also visit the NHS's Start4Life website for information about pregnancy and becoming a new parent.

Your health visitor

Your health visitor can offer support for looking after your baby and managing your mental health. You can also talk to them about anything you're worried about, or any difficult feelings or thoughts you're having.

They can let you know about other services in your area, or they might suggest that you speak to your doctor.

Perinatal mental health services

There are specialist mental health services in some parts of the country for anyone who is pregnant or has recently given birth. These are called perinatal mental health services. They include teams of specialist nurses and doctors, as well as specialist hospital wards called mother and baby units (MBUs).

Mother and baby units (MBUs) are specialist psychiatric wards in hospitals. You can be admitted to an MBU with your baby if you are having mental health problems during pregnancy or after giving birth.

The MBU can give you treatment and support for your mental health problem. They can also support you in developing parenting skills and bonding with your baby.

Voluntary organisations and charities

There are several voluntary organisations and charities who offer a range of support to families and new parents:

  • Family Lives offers confidential support, information and advice for parents.
  • Home Start offers a service which pairs you with a volunteer who visits you to offer practical and emotional support.
  • Family Action offers specialist support services for parents with a mental health problem. This includes services during pregnancy and after giving birth.
  • NCT runs a range of courses for new parents and has a membership that runs activities and social groups.
  • The Association for Postnatal Illness (APNI) offers information and support about postnatal depression. This includes information for partners and carers.
  • The Breastfeeding Network offers nationwide support about breastfeeding.

Source: www.mind.org.uk

  • Pregnancy+: Featuring interactive images each week of your pregnancy, this app is here to support your week-by-week journey to motherhood.

  • Ovia Pregnancy Tracker: Watch your baby grow each day with this personalised experience that will take you from conceiving through to birth.

  • Baby 2 Body: Stay fit, eat well and take care of you and your baby with this prenatal and postnatal fitness and wellbeing app.

  • Pregnancy Tracker: Baby Bump: Provides mums with helpful and practical information and updates about their baby's developments from when you're trying to conceive to the very end of your pregnancy journey.

For him

  • Who’s Your Daddy?: The first time dad's go-to guide, this clever little app has been written by men, for men and promises to make him laugh as he gets ready for his new arrival.
  • Pregnant Dad: Providing him with all the essential information, whilst also giving him the answer to the questions he probably wouldn’t want to ask at your next check-up.

If you are pregnant, you are entitled to 52 weeks (1 year) of maternity leave, regardless of how long you have worked for your employer. The leave is comprised of:

  • 26 weeks of Ordinary Maternity Leave
  • 26 weeks of Additional Maternity Leave

You do not have to take the full 52 weeks, but by law you must take maternity leave for a minimum of 2 weeks after the birth of your baby.

In order to claim statutory maternity leave, you need to let your employer know your due date and when you would like to take your leave at least 15 weeks before your baby is due. It's best to tell your employer in writing so that you have a record.

If you have a partner, you may be eligible to take some of your leave as Shared Paternal Leave.

Start dates and early births

Usually, the earliest you can start your leave is 11 weeks before your due date, however your leave will automatically start if:

  • Your baby is born early
  • You are off work with a pregnancy-related illness in the four weeks before your baby is due

You can use the maternity planner to work out the dates of your ordinary and additional maternity leave, as well as the earliest date your maternity leave can start.

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is a weekly or monthly payment from your employer to support you during your time off work (both before and after your baby is born).

SMP is paid for up to 39 weeks of your maternity leave. Check whether you qualify for SMP. If you are not eligible for SMP, you may be eligible for Maternity Allowance (MA) instead.

You can use the maternity pay calculator to work out how much you could get.

Talk to us

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