Women who are at risk of mental health problems should receive more support throughout their pregnancies, healthcare professionals are to be told.

Doctors, nurses, health visitors and midwives will be given updated guidelines by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) on how to treat women with greater safety and sensitivity before, during and after their pregnancies.

Parents who experience difficulties such as stillbirth, miscarriage, birth trauma or an extreme fear of childbirth should be treated with greater care and should be given more opportunities to discuss their wishes and concerns.

Roughly 13% of women suffer anxiety and 12% experience depression at some point during or pregnancy, with many said to experience both.

Professor Mark Baker, NICE Centre for Clinical Practice director, said: “Mental health problems during and after pregnancy are common.

“More than one in 10 women will experience depression at some point during their pregnancy. This increases to one in five women during the first year after giving birth.

“During pregnancy and the postnatal period, women may also experience other mental health problems. Giving women the right treatment at the right time can have a profound effect – not just for the mother, but her family too. The effect of getting this right can last for years.

“The guidance makes a number of new and updated recommendations, covering not only treatments, but also in providing women who are newly diagnosed or with a history of mental health problems with the information and support they need before they become pregnant.”

Mother-of-two Maria Bavette, co-founder of Maternal OCD, experienced postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder and assisted in the development of the new NICE guidelines.

“I believe this guideline will help to de-stigmatise mental health problems during the perinatal period and encourage all healthcare professionals at every point of contact with a mum to talk about their mental health as well as their physical health,” she said.

“Mothers especially need looking after so they can in turn care for themselves and their baby – this guideline sets out which treatments are recommended for mild, moderate to severe maternal mental health problems and needs to be utilised by all healthcare professionals.”

To read the full Essex County Standard article visit: http://www.essexcountystandard.co.uk/news/national/news/11670945.Mental_health_call_for_pregnancy/