After you have given birth, it’s often all about the baby. But it’s important to give new mums the space and support to discuss their own emotional needs – which is why the NCT have launched their Hidden Half campaign. Over on Jessica Ennis-Hill's Jennis Postnatal exercise app, we find out more…
When your life and body has been through huge changes and you’re still adjusting after the birth of your baby, it’s understandable that your emotional health is also impacted.
The NCT want to provide mothers with the opportunity to talk about their own emotional welfare, which is why they have launched their Hidden Half campaign.
We chat to Abigail Wood, the NCT’s head of campaigns, about the inspiration behind it and find out what we can all do to support it.
Nearly a third of new mums got less than three minutes to discuss their own health at their six-week check-up
How did the Hidden Half campaign come about?
We conducted some research with Netmums and discovered that nearly a third of new mums got less than three minutes to discuss their own health at their six-week check-up.
We understand how important it is that they get the time and space to talk about their own needs, which is why we launched the Hidden Half campaign.
Why is it called the Hidden Half?
In another survey, we found that while many new mums experience postnatal mental illness, only half get any treatment for it. We wanted to address this to prevent other women from slipping through the net.
What are you asking for in your campaign?
We want government funding to pay for every new mum to have a separate appointment slot – so 10 whole minutes – focused around them and how they’re feeling.
We know that lots of new mothers feel guilty talking about their own needs, so it’s a chance to discuss her mental and physical wellbeing.
We also want GPs to receive guidance on how best to run this session to help the mum feel comfortable enough to open up.
An NCT survey found that while many new mums experience postnatal mental illness, only half get any treatment for it
Why is a dedicated six-week check-up for mums so important?
There is still a massive stigma about new mums talking about how they are feeling, especially if they’re struggling, so we think the six-week check-up offers an opportunity to pick up on emotional wellbeing problems early on when a bit of help could make a big difference.
For example, you may be having trouble bonding with your baby, and just need to chat about this. Or you could be experiencing the signs of a mental health problem, for example postnatal depression, postnatal anxiety, or post-partum psychosis and need more help and care.
We know that if a doctor takes the time talk to you about how you’re coping, problems can be identified, support offered and follow-ups arranged.
But it isn’t just about mental health. The six-week GP appointment is also a great chance for the mum to discuss any physical health issues too, like pelvic floor and sexual health problems, and for any problems to be picked up and fixed quickly.
How will this make a difference in the long-term?
Apart from being able to help a new mum earlier, there are lots of long-term benefits to the six-week check-up, one of which is outcomes for their children.
Research shows that 16-year-olds are five times more likely to experience depression if their mum experienced depression too.
How do you feel that this appointment should work?
Your baby obviously needs their own appointment slot too – but this should be either straight after the mum’s appointment or on a separate day.
If it’s a double-slot appointment, medical experts all agree that mum’s wellbeing is most helped if she goes first.
What you can do to support the campaign
Read more about the Hidden Half campaign, support it on social media (#hiddenhalf) and get in touch with your MP and ask them to support changing the GP contract with the Department of Health to include the six-week check. Here’s a template email to fill in.