I'm pregnant

Most of us will of heard of Postnatal depression - the type of depression experienced after having a baby. What is less talked about is that many women can feel low or struggle with their emotional health during their pregnancy as well.

It's very common for women to hold back from talking about these feelings and many end up not seeking the support they need. It's important to know that if you're feeling low or anxious, health professionals are there to look after your mental health as well as your physical wellbeing. The sooner you can talk to your midwife, health visitor or GP, the quicker you can find the right support to help you cope.

In this section you will find lots of useful information about taking care of your emotional wellbeing during your pregnancy and finding different forms of support in the city.

How can I look after my emotional health?

During pregnancy your body goes through many changes in a fairly short space of time. As your baby grows it takes minerals and vitamins from your own body and your hormone balance changes, which can affect your mood.

It can also take time to adjust to the big life changes about to happen, or, perhaps, come to terms with an unexpected pregnancy.

It's quite normal to feel worried or anxious about these changes and new pressures and many other women will experience similar feelings.

Following our guide can help you to look after your emotional health during your pregnancy.

How to look after your emotional health during your pregnancy

You can also create a Pregnancy and Post-birth Wellbeing Plan on the Tommy's website.

I'm feeling low or anxious. What should I do?

Although it's normal to have periods of worry and stress when you're pregnant, if these feelings don't go away and begin to affect your day-to-day activities, it's important to ask for help from your midwife, health visitor or GP.

Some signs that you may be experiencing anxiety or depression can include:

  • Feeling over-anxious, sad, tearful, guilty or down most of the time.
  • Worrying a lot about your baby or the birth.
  • Withdrawing from contact with other people.
  • Loss of interest in activities or things that you used to enjoy or take pleasure in.
  • Feeling irritable.
  • Loss of self-confidence.
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions.
  • Changes in appetite - eating more or less.
  • Feeling tired or restless.
  • Lack of energy and sleeping problems.
  • Tense muscles.
  • Feeling panicky or experiencing panic attacks.

Watch this animation with new mums from Leeds talking about how they struggled with their emotions during pregnancy and after the birth.

Many women hold back on asking for help because they feel that their problems aren't serious enough to bother a health professional or they're worried about feeling embarrassed or being judged. All health professionals in the city are trained to support women with their feelings. The earlier you can talk about how you are feeling and get support, the less likely it is to turn into a more serious problem.

Any health professional you speak to should treat you with respect and understanding. If you speak to someone and don't feel that they understand, however, it is OK to try speaking to another professional who you feel more comfortable talking to.

If you have thoughts of hurting yourself or taking your own life, it is very important that you arrange an urgent appointment with a health professional such as your GP so they can put the right support in place for you.

If you've had previous contact with mental health services in Leeds - do you have a crisis plan with contact details? If you are unable to find the plan, you can call Leeds and York Partnership Foundation Trust's (LYPFT) Single Point of Access (SPA) on 0300 300 1485. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you can text 07983 323867. The SPA Team provides an access point for referrals by health care professionals to specialist mental health services in Leeds. They are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you've not had any previous contact with mental health services in Leeds and cannot wait for an urgent GP appointment: call NHS 111 (freephone, open 24 hours a day) - a highly trained adviser, supported by healthcare professionals, will ask you a series of questions and immediately direct you to the best service to support your needs.

You can also find a range of telephone support and places you can go in an emotional crisis here.

If you feel that you or someone else is in immediate danger, you should call 999 immediately.

I have experienced mental health difficulties before. Could this affect my pregnancy?

If you are taking medication for your mental health (such as antidepressants) and find out you are pregnant (or think that you might be) it's important to talk to your GP as soon as possible. It's easy to panic that your medication might hurt your baby and stop taking it, without talking to your GP. This can have a negative effect on your mental health. Your GP can support you to make a decision about your medication that's right for your health and the health of your baby.

If you have experienced issues with your mental health in the past, or are currently experiencing difficulties, it's important to talk openly about this with your GP, midwife or health visitor. They can make sure that the right help is in place to support you. You may be offered an assessment by the Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Midwifery team to plan your support needs during your pregnancy and for after the baby is born.

It's also important to talk to your GP if you are taking medication for your mental health and are hoping to conceive so that you can plan, in advance, what medication and emotional support will be right for you during your pregnancy.

What support is available in Leeds for pregnant women?

You can talk to your midwife, GP or health visitor, at any stage, about how you're feeling. They will ask you some questions to help them understand a bit more about what you've been experiencing and discuss what support is available to help you feel better.

Any health professional you speak to should treat you with respect and understanding. If you speak to someone and don't feel that they understand, however, it is OK to try speaking to another professional who you feel more comfortable talking to.

You can also read our guide to the different kinds of support available for pregnant women and parents-to-be in Leeds including services that you can refer yourself to.

What should I do if I need help quickly?

If you feel that you or someone else is in immediate danger, you should call 999 immediately.

If you've had previous contact with mental health services in Leeds - do you have a crisis plan with contact details? If you are unable to find the plan, you can call Leeds and York Partnership Foundation Trust's Single Point of Access (SPA) on 0300 300 1485. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you can text 07983 323867. The SPA is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you've not had any previous contact with mental health services in Leeds and cannot wait for an urgent GP appointment: call NHS 111 (freephone, open 24 hours a day) - a highly trained adviser, supported by healthcare professionals, will ask you a series of questions and immediately direct you to the best service to support your needs.

How to find emotional support in Leeds

I need help now can help you find a range of telephone support if you need someone to talk to as well as places you can go in an emotional crisis, including:

Connect is a telephone helpline for people living in Leeds. The service provides emotional support and information for people in distress. Trained volunteers provide compassionate, non-judgemental support and can give information about other services, if needed. You can also talk to Connect through instant chat.

Open 6pm-2am every night of the year.

Tel 0808 800 1212 (freephone)

The Samaritans on 116 123 (freephone) is open 24 hours a day.

Dial House is an out-of-hours Leeds service for people in times of crisis where visitors can relax and have an hour of one-to-one support from the team of crisis support workers. Visitors who are attending for the first time, can just turn up from 6pm. If you have been before you will need to ring 0113 2609328 or text 07922 249452 from 6pm on the night you want to request a visit (it's best to ring before 7.30pm if possible).

Open Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday - 6pm-2am.

12 Chapel Street, Halton, Leeds, LS15 7RW

Well-Bean Hope in a Crisis Café is open to people in Leeds who are experiencing a crisis. The cafe can offer emotional one-to-one support for up to one hour, support in a safe social space as well as practical help. You can self-refer to this service - visitors should ring or text first on 07760 173476 each time they would like to go to the cafe.

Open on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Bank Holiday evenings 6pm-12am.

Lincoln Green Community Centre, 29 Cromwell Mount, LS9 7JB

Open on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings 6pm-12am.

Touchstone House, 2-4 Middleton Crescent, Beeston, LS11 6JU

Open on Thursday and Friday evenings from 6pm to 12am.

New Wortley Community Centre, 40 Tong Road, Leeds LS12 1LZ

Tools and apps

Download the free Baby Buddy app - health professionals in Leeds use a range of tools including a free app called Baby Buddy which was created to be used by all families in the UK. The app acts as your personal baby 'bubby' which can guide you through your pregnancy and the first six months of your baby's life. The app was developed by a charity called Best Beginnings with the help of mums, partners, midwives and GPs. The app contains films featuring families from Leeds who talk about their emotional health during pregnancy and also how to bond with your unborn baby. The app is available free from Google Play or from the App Store. You can read the app's privacy policy and terms of use here. There is also a web version of Baby Buddy.

Learn more

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has produced a series of eight helpful leaflets for pregnant women and new parents on a range of topics including perinatal OCD and postpartum psychosis.

No thanks I'm pregnant - Leeds pregnancy and alcohol campaign.

From Dads to Dads - is a website especially for dads, featuring real life experiences, useful facts and information laid out simply by experts in the field.

The Pandas Foundation is an organisation which helps individuals and their families with pre and postnatal depression advice and support. They also offer support to families in the antenatal period. The Pandas Foundation helpline is open 9am to 8pm on 0843 2898401.

Tommy's is the UK's largest charity which funds research into the causes of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth. It also provides an information service for parents-to-be to help them have a healthy pregnancy and baby - call Tommy's Pregnancy Line on 0800 0147 800.

Tommy's: Mental health before, during and after pregnancy

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