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RCOG statement on draft NICE guidelines on the management of antenatal and postnatal mental health

News 16 July 2014

NICE is in the process of updating its guideline on the clinical management of antenatal and postnatal mental health.

The draft guideline, which is now open for consultation, makes recommendations for the recognition, care and treatment of mental health problems in women during pregnancy and the postnatal period. It also includes the care of women with an existing mental health problem who are planning a pregnancy, and the organisation of mental health services.

President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Dr David Richmond, says:

“We welcome these draft guidelines for clinicians highlighting the importance of supporting mums both before birth and the weeks and months following birth.

“We know that around 10% of new mothers are likely to develop a depressive illness and it is therefore vital that they receive the right support at this important time.

“We also know that women with pre-existing mental health disorders are at a greater risk and an assessment of risk should begin pre-pregnancy to ensure women receive the best possible care. These guidelines reflect this and there is greater emphasis on supporting women who may be planning a pregnancy who have had previous mental health problems and that they may need increased contact and monitoring.

“We also welcome the recommendations on traumatic birth and losing a baby. It is vital that women receive advice and support and if needed a specialist mental health assessment.

“The RCOG recognises that the curriculum and training programme needs to increasingly highlight mental health issues and we plan to review all curriculum modules to ensure these issues are given prominence.

“We are committed to working closely with the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Royal College of Midwives and other stakeholders to ensure that obstetricians, midwives and other maternity staff are trained to ensure every woman with metal health issues receives personalised care throughout pregnancy, childbirth and during the postnatal period.

“We believe that the concept of care should be more inclusive and extend over a woman’s life-course. Supporting women prior to conception is an example of this and will lead to better outcomes for both mother and baby. Health and wellbeing of women is a vital component to the development of their children both during pregnancy and following the birth and women need high quality, effective and compassionate care both in pregnancy and at other times in their lives.”


For more information please see the RCOG’s Good Practice guidance: Management of Women with Mental Health Issues during Pregnancy and the Postnatal Period.