As a mother of two, I have had two distinct experiences as a pregnant Black woman going through maternal care within the UK. I am disappointed to say that both my experiences were negative.
A key factor in my experience was how often I was not informed or presented with a choice in my care. My first child was premature, and I experienced anxiety and low mood. At no point during my journey into the neonatal world was I signposted for perinatal mental health care.
However, I have taken my experience in stride and chosen to advocate for myself and my friends and family.
For my own experience, it would have been key to have had perinatal mental health support or care without having to explicitly request help. When you are visiting your child in the neonatal unit, many times we feel alone and tearful.
Doctors and nurses witness this, yet there is not a current system where mothers can be heard or advocate for themselves during other complex needs such as concerns about the health of their child.
It would be beneficial to have processes in place across maternity services to support all women when they are in vulnerable situations, to prevent poor outcomes in perinatal mental health.
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