A new service to help improve people’s mental health following childbirth has been introduced by Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust.
Birth Thoughts is a weekly clinic which offers people who have given birth at MTW, and who live in the West Kent area, the opportunity to talk about their birth experience and explore their thoughts and feelings with a midwife during the postnatal period*.
Karen Lesson, Lead Professional Midwifery Advocate, said: “Everyone who goes through childbirth will have a different experience. For some it can be hugely rewarding, for others it may have been traumatic or very different to the birth they had originally planned for.
“For some women, additional support – sometimes simply someone to talk to – could prevent the onset of depression and other mental health conditions. Talking enables people to reflect and bring some clarity to their experiences and possibly help to answer any questions they may have about their care.
“Although midwives are not trained counsellors or therapists they can talk and listen and help people understand their birth experience.”
The midwifery-led clinic was set up in response to NHS England’s Better Births report’s 5-year plan which aims to provide better postnatal mental health care.
Appointments take place virtually and last around an hour.
People can refer themselves to the service by completing a self-referral form on the Trust’s website or they can be signposted to it by a community midwife or health visitor.
As part of the Better Birth Initiative, people now have access to their birth and postnatal notes while on the postnatal ward at Tunbridge Wells Hospital, or staying at one of the Trust’s birth centres in Maidstone or Crowborough, giving them an opportunity to talk with the staff on the ward before going home.
Karen added: “This service is not replacing the time midwives spend talking with women postnatally but creating a clear pathway for those women that require an obstetric referral and those that need sign-posting to other services for further support.
“The midwife will review a person’s notes prior to the session in order to support them during the discussion. Those who are offered an appointment can also have a friend or partner with them during the session too.”
* The postnatal period is the period after the birth of a child.