MUMS have hailed a mental health trust for its invaluable support following personal struggles after the birth of their babies during the height of the pandemic.

The Perinatal Mental Health Service run by Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust (LSCft), offers women in the area psychiatric and psychological assessments for those with complex or severe mental health problems during pregnancy and up to one year after giving birth.

To help raise awareness during Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week (May 3-8), Amy, a teacher from Ribble Valley and mum Jade from Blackpool and, Lancashire share their experiences and journey to recovery in the hope that it may encourage others to seek help.

Amy’s story

“Our little boy was born in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. After a very traumatic birth, my husband wasn’t allowed to stay in hospital with me due to restrictions. I struggled to get our little boy to breastfeed at first, so was expressing in hospital. At home, our little boy did eventually latch, but it was a real struggle at times. He then started to be violently sick after a feed due to me having an oversupply and this made me very anxious. I did get help from my amazing health visitor and a breastfeeding support group, but with covid there wasn’t as much face-to-face support as there would have been pre-pandemic.

“After a month of breastfeeding, I switched to bottle feeding in the hope that this would make me less anxious. I felt guilty as I had really wanted to breastfeed and understand the massive benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and baby. Bottle feeding helped my anxiety at first, but then our little boy started to refuse the bottle after he was burped. Again this made me extremely anxious. I was worried he wasn’t get enough fluid and would become dehydrated. This was something I was anxious about as without regular feeds, it could cause my baby to dehydrate.

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“I felt very anxious and worried for the first six months of my son’s life. Due to covid, I felt very isolated and unsure if what I was experiencing with my son’s feeding was normal. Not being able to speak to other mums at baby groups meant that I felt very alone. I found being in the house for long periods meant that I would feel trapped and I would overanalyse situations and this increased my anxiety further. When it did come to being able to go out and go to places, I found it very stressful. I found as our little boy was so used to being in a quiet environment when feeding, that taking him out and feeding him in public would be a real challenge. I would also wake up in the middle of night anxious about his feeding – was I making up the bottles wrong? What would happen if he didn’t drink enough the next day? I also found it extremely hard leaving our little boy with anyone who wasn’t my husband.

“Following my experience, I spoke to the team at Ribblemere Mother and Baby unit and started to receive support from them in March 2021.

“I was helped by so many wonderful professionals, a mental health practitioner, a nursery nurse, psychologist, occupational therapist and several doctors. They gave me the tools and confidence to visit places with my son and eventually go back to work. They visited very frequently at the beginning and this helped massively: I no longer felt alone and isolated. My contact with the mental health practitioner allowed me to talk through things, I always knew there was someone I could talk to about my worries. They had an overview of the help I was receiving from the other healthcare professionals and knew how to support me effectively. The sessions with the nursery nurse gave me the support I needed with weaning and they really helped me to form a strong bond with our son.

“The psychology sessions helped me to talk through my worries and to become more rational in my thinking. These sessions also gave me strategies to help ease my anxiety and by talking through situations it made me realise that I was doing a good job of looking after our little boy. I found going back to work stressful at the start, but with help from the occupational therapist, I started to prioritise things more effectively.

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“Going back to work has been a massive help, it reminds me that I also have a career outside of being a mum. It has really helped me to stop overthinking and overanalysing situations.

"I owe so much to all the people that helped me during the hardest period of my life. I will never forget the care and support shown to me by people that I had never met before. They went above and beyond to help me get better and enjoy the time with our amazing little boy.”

Jade's story

“I was showing signs of postpartum psychosis soon after the birth of my son back in March 2020. It was such a shock and came completely out of the blue. Eight days later I was admitted to the Ribblemere Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) and stayed there for over two months. Even though at the time I wanted to be at home with my family, looking back now I know I was in the best place and has got me to where I am today. “Without the MBU I don’t think my recovery would have been as quick. It has been a difficult journey but you do recover and get your life back.

“I was also diagnosed with post-natal depression, lost the bond with my baby and it put a massive strain on my marriage. However two years later, I’m completely off the medication, my bond with my son is amazing and so strong and my marriage is now back on track.

“Without the support from the Mother and Baby Unit mental health team, the charity Action on Postpartum Psychosis and my family, I don’t know where I would be today.

Gillian Strachan, consultant perinatal psychiatrist at LSCft said: “Women can experience a whole range of mental health problems during pregnancy as well as after their baby is born. This can be a worsening of an existing difficulties, the recurrence of a previous problem, or a new problem, out of the blue. The most severe illness is postpartum psychosis, where mums lose touch with reality, and can be a very distressing experience for the mums and dads and their families. Often mums need admitted to hospital, or a mother and baby unit where they can continue to develop their relationship with their baby, and the prognosis is excellent, just like Jade’s story.

“Some mums become incredibly anxious, and believe that they are failing as a mum, and sometimes feel that their baby would be better being looked after by someone else, which can be thoughts shared by mum’s with a depressive illness. This can lead to feeling of hopelessness, and it can feel like it is too difficult to carry on.

“Perinatal mental health services can help in lots of ways, with medicine only being a part of the treatment. For example, nursery nurses can help to build mum’s confidence and relationship with her baby, allowing them to recognise and believe the amazing job that they are doing. Psychologists can help with ways to manage anxious thoughts, and recognise and challenge thinking that isn’t quite right. Mental health nurses can help with techniques for managing emotional distress, and occupational therapists can help with planning and activities that we know help such as walking, or 10 minutes doing something that used to be enjoyable, helped by support time recovery workers. We also have peer support workers, women who have lived experience of perinatal mental health problems, and so are able to draw on their own personal experience which can really help instil hope for recovery. The team works with each mum and their family to work out what will be the best plan of care for them, like Amy’s story.

“Specialist perinatal services are only part of the picture though, and work closely with others teams that work with mums and their families including midwives, health visitors, psychological services, GP’s and voluntary organisations such as Action on Postpartum Psychosis to make sure there is joined up care. And excitingly there is a new service for mums who have mental health problems after a traumatic experience in their maternity journey.

“We have come on amazing journey over the past 4 years, when there were no specialist perinatal services in Lancashire and South Cumbria. Maternal mental illness is really common, and there is lots that can be done to help, I would encourage people to speak to their midwife, health visitor or GP if they or their loved one is struggling, don’t hide how you are really feeling, there is no shame or judgement, and no such thing as a perfect mum.”

Any one in Lancashire and South Cumbria experiencing perinatal mental health issues can call the referral helpline on 01254 612731 or email

For more information on the Perinatal Mental Health Service, visit: