Report claims new mothers too scared to tell GPs about postnatal depression

Credit: This story was first seen on The Telegraph

Women with postnatal depression are not being provided with adequate care by their GP, a report suggests.

The study by the National Childbirth Trust suggests half of new mothers suffer mental health problems during pregnancy or within the first year of their child’s birth, The Telegraph reports.

But 42% of those reporting such experiences said their problems were never detected by a health professional.

In one fifth of cases, GPs did not even ask about their emotional wellbeing, the NCT report said.

Just as commonly, new mothers felt unable to disclose their anxiety.

In total, 46% of those who felt unable to speak up worried that health professionals would think they were not capable of looking after their baby. And almost as many said doctors did not seem interested or sympathetic, while one quarter said there was no time.

Every new mother is supposed to be offered a postnatal check-up by their GP, six weeks after the birth of their child.

But the poll of more than 1,000 new mothers found that one in three said their check up took three minutes or less. Often the slot was mainly spent checking on the health of the baby, leaving little or no time to discuss how the mother was feeling, the survey found.

The charity is calling for an overhaul of the system of checks, so that new mothers get a GP appointment dedicated only to their own health.

Sarah McMullen, head of knowledge at NCT said: “It is shocking that so many new mothers aren’t getting the help they need which can have a devastating impact on the women and their families.”

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the RCGP, said the checks were an important opportunity to discuss a new mother’s health and wellbeing.

But she said: “It’s incredibly hard for GPs to explore all the physical and psychological factors affecting our patients’ health within the time constraints of the consultation as it stands. We need these checks to be much longer as standard, so that we are able to give the same attention to the new mother as we do to the baby – but this needs more resources for our service, and more GPs.”

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