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RCOG welcomes RCM perinatal mental health roadmap

16 Aug 2023

Today, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has published a new report: ‘Strengthening perinatal mental health’, providing a roadmap on how to improve services and midwifery training to ensure that women and people are supported with their mental health during and following pregnancy.

The report highlights that one in five women will experience mental health issues during pregnancy and up to a year after birth, ranging from anxiety and depression to more significant illness. Furthermore, suicide remains one of the leading causes of death in new mothers up to the first year after giving birth.

This report is published the same week as a new study in the Lancet Psychiatry, which shows that women with poor mental health have a 50% higher chance of preterm birth. The study looked at more than two million pregnancies in England, and found that pregnant women with previous contact with mental health services have an increased risk of premature birth, having a small baby, and health problems with their babies in the first month after birth.

Professor Asma Khalil, consultant obstetrician and Vice President of Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:

“We welcome the report by the RCM calling for improvements to the mental health support available for women and people throughout and after their pregnancy.

“Access to support during and following pregnancy is essential to ensuring the health and wellbeing of both women and their babies. Everyone should have equitable access to mental health services, and we support the recommendations to ensure that these services have adequate resources to best support women. This roadmap paves the way for positive changes at all levels, advocating for every maternity unit to be equipped with staff who can recognise women who may benefit from specialist care, and allowing specialist healthcare professionals the time to care for them.”


Notes to editors

  • Policy and governance
  • Pregnancy and birth