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It's vital that we tackle the stigma surrounding mental health before, during and after pregnancy...

That from a top consultant at the West Hertfordshire Hospital's NHS Trust, who is behind a special session at the Westfield Academy in Watford this evening (July 15th 2016).

Consultant Obstetrician in Perinatal Mental Health, Raja Gangopadhyay, will be talking about conditions, such as depression.

A number of mothers who have lived through mental illness will also speak out about their personal experiences, alongside experts in the field.

It will also be an opportunity to meet the newly launched Lavender Team at Watford General Hospital who have developed a programme of mental wellbeing support for the mother.

Raja Gangopadhyay's been telling BOB fm that the mental health of the mother is as important as any other medical complaint: "We need to start talking about this; suicide in pregnancy and the first postnatal year remains one of the leading causes of maternal death. This affects not just the mother but the child and the wider family...

We must begin to acknowledge that the mental health of the mother is as important as any other medical condition such as high blood pressure or diabetes. 

Poor mental health can also affect the foetus. This can lead to pre-term delivery, growth restriction, and developmental delay causing low IQ and/or anti-social behaviour.  This can also have long term effects including early onset mental health conditions in the child".

Mr Gangopadhyay added: "I am also keen to stress that post-natal depression, post-partum psychosis or just general depression and anxiety can happen to anyone.

It does not have to have presented itself in the mother before pregnancy. We all need to look out for the signs and be vigilant over our loved ones because there is help out there and the sooner a diagnosis, the sooner things can be managed and monitored. 

Women must speak up if they are troubled. It is not just important for them but for the baby. What I have learnt in my career so far is that if you listen to the patient then you can never go wrong but we must be asking the right questions and providing the right solutions.

I hear time after time mothers saying to me they feel a lack of control or a sense of failure, that they are a bad mother. I always say to them you are the perfect mum for your baby - you can't be a bad mum".

  • The free event will be held on 15 July between 6pm and 8pm at Westfield Academy, Tolpits Lane, Watford, WD 18 6NS (access via Croxley View).


 

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