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Midwives call for more training in perinatal mental health

Pregnant woman - Image credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire/PA Images

Midwives call for more training in perinatal mental health

Midwives in Scotland want more training in how to support pregnant women and new mums with their mental health, a new survey has found.

The survey by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) in Scotland found 97 per cent of midwives want more specialist training in perinatal mental health (PMH), while 79 per cent want more education on how to assess women’s perinatal mental health needs.

Meeting the needs of women with perinatal mental health problems is one of their key roles, midwives said.

Depression during pregnancy and after the birth is very common.

Around 15-20 per cent of women develop postnatal depression, and anxiety and suicide is the leading cause of death in the first year after pregnancy.

It is also the fifth most common cause of women’s deaths during pregnancy and immediately afterwards.

Nearly a third of midwives (31 per cent) said they were not at all confident in their knowledge and understanding of PMH.

Just 13 per cent of respondents said they felt confident in providing PMH care during and after pregnancy.

Midwives said that a lack of access to training to improve their knowledge and skills was an issue, with obstacles to getting training including a lack of time and managerial support.

In response to the survey, RCM Scotland recommended prioritising resources and funding to meet midwives’ PMH training needs and increasing the availability of PMH education before and after qualification as a midwife.

The RCM is also compiling a list of educational resources and has online learning modules on PMH for its members on its e-learning platform.

Mary Ross-Davie, director for Scotland at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “All maternity care providers need to put mental health on an equal footing with physical wellbeing.

“Not getting this right can have a direct impact on a woman’s experience of pregnancy, birth and early parenting.

“Scotland’s midwives are dedicated to offering women with perinatal mental health problems the best possible care and support.

“Yet we are sometimes hampered by a lack of access to training and development to be able to do that as well as we want. This worries me greatly.

 “Our services are among the best in the UK, if not the world and the Scottish Government are making great efforts to improve the support and care for all women and for women with mental health problems.

“This includes additional money to improve services including more specialist mental health midwives.

“At the same time, we need to ensure that all of our midwives have the training they need so that women get the best possible care all the way through their pregnancy and beyond.

 “We are making great strides, but as our survey shows, there is more to do.”

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