Covid-19 and pregnancy
Visit our dedicated section on maternity services during Covid-19 (Coronavirus). Below are two videos which you may find useful.
Maternity patient information at our hospitals during Covid-19
Information on Covid-19 (Coronavirus) for pregnant BAME women
24-hour maternity helpline
01708 503 742
If you are concerned at any time about your pregnancy or new born baby, contact our dedicated 24-hour Maternity Helpline which is available seven days a week .
We provide maternity care to around 8,200 women each year, making it one of the largest maternity services in the country. We recognise that pregnancy and birth are really important times for women and their families and we will support your individual birth choices with up-to-date facilities, information, and highly trained staff treating you with compassion and respect.
Maternity visitor arrangements
The following visitor arrangements apply:
- One visitor (the birthing partner) can visit our antenatal, postnatal and Coral wards between 1pm and 8pm and can stay for as long as they wish during this time. Children are not allowed to visit.
- A birthing support partner and one other can be present with the woman throughout labour.
- If a child is born outside of these visiting hours, the birthing partner will be able to remain on the labour ward.
- If you have had an elective caesarean your birthing partner can stay with you while you are in our High Dependency Unit or Recovery area.
- Birthing partners can attend all maternity clinics.
- Our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is open 24/7 for both parents, who can be together at the cot side. Visitors must take a Lateral Flow Test beforehand and confirm a negative test on arrival.
If you have any questions about your pregnancy or our visiting policy please speak to your midwife.
Partners are able to attend all maternity scans.
While we continue to keep everyone safe, we’ve also secured additional waiting space for partners (or one other adult if a woman does not have a partner, or they are unable to attend with her). They will be asked to wait outside the department until their turn, when they will be able to accompany their loved one to their appointment.
Children are not allowed into scan appointments.
Antenatal services at King George Hospital
Our antenatal service at King George Hospital is now located on the ground floor while we manage the pandemic. Download the map showing the new antenatal entrance:
Place of Birth Choices
Our app of choice is the Baby Buddy App. Use the QR code in your notes or download
Book your care
If you book your care with us you will have your baby at Queen's Hospital in Romford. You can self-refer yourself as soon as you know you are pregnant (even when you see that first pink/blue line!) to our maternity services by completing our self-referral form.
Please be aware that our catchment areas for women are a little different to our geographical borough boundaries. This may mean that even if you live in Barking and Dagenham, Havering or Redbridge, we may not be able to look after you during your pregnancy. These catchment areas were agreed with our Commissioners to ensure we can keep the women we look after safe and provide high quality care.
Visit the MyHealthLondon website for your nearest maternity services provider.
Pregnancy: reduce the risks
It is important that women have access to high quality information before and during their pregnancy to enable them to reduce the risk to their baby. Public Health England and Sands have developed some key messages.
- Choose when to start or grow your family by using contraception.
- Eat healthily and be physically active to enter pregnancy at a healthy weight.
- Take a daily supplement of folic acid before conception and until 12 weeks of pregnancy.
- Ensure that you are vaccinated against rubella.
- Find out if you think you or your partner could be a carrier for a genetic disorder.
- Stop smoking.
- Pregnant women should have 10μg of vitamin D a day.
- Don’t drink alcohol.
- Don’t smoke and avoid second hand smoke.
- Don’t use illegal street drugs or other substances.
- Have the seasonal flu vaccination.
- Have the pertussis (whooping cough) vaccination.
- Avoid contact with people who have infectious illnesses, including diarrhoea, sickness, childhood illnesses or any rash-like illness.
- Remember the importance of handwashing to reduce the risk of CMV (cytomegalovirus) infection.
- Go to all antenatal appointments.
- Contact the maternity service promptly if you are worried - don’t wait.
- In later pregnancy (after 28 weeks), it is safer to go to sleep on your side than on your back.
Whatever you want to know about being pregnant, from early pregnancy signs to which prenatal vitamins you should take, you should find it on the NHS website.
Use of maternity records for the pool study
This unit is part of a research study about births in water
The study is collecting data on all births in this maternity unit until August 2021.
For babies who need specialist care after birth, the study will also use data held by the National Neonatal Research Database (NNRD).
This will mean securely sending the NHS numbers of babies to the NNRD so that we can find them in their database.
The research team at Cardiff University will only ever receive anonymised information. This means that we will not be able to identify any mother or child.
If you are happy with this use of information, you do not need to do anything.
If you do not want your data to be used in the study please inform your midwife.
For more information about the POOL study:
Smoking and pregnancy
Every cigarette you smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals. Smoking when pregnant harms your unborn baby. Cigarettes restricts the essential oxygen supply to your baby. As a result, their heart must beat harder every time you smoke.
For more details. visit the NHS website on stopping smoking during pregnancy.
Redbridge Stop Smoking Service
The Redbridge Stop Smoking service is delivered by Everyone Health. It is free to individuals living, working or registered with a GP in Redbridge. Individuals are offered a 6 week programme which includes weekly 1:1 behavioural support + pharmacotherapy. The combination of both of these elements increases chances of quitting by around 3x compared to no support at all. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the service is being delivered 1:1 by telephone or video.
For more information or to refer, please visit: https://redbridge.everyonehealth.co.uk or telephone 0333 005 0095. You can also follow the Facebook page www.facebook.com/EHRedbridge or twitter www.twitter.com/RedbridgeEh
Smoking and Mental Health
You can watch more videos on how people stopped smoking on the Addiction and Mental Health Group YouTube channel.
Screening and ultrasound scans
As part of your antenatal care, you will be offered various tests to check on the health of your developing baby and for conditions that may affect you or your baby. It is important you book for antenatal care as early as possible in your pregnancy. This will help you get these tests at the appropriate time, and benefit from other care for you and your baby.
Screening tests are used to find people at higher chance of a health problem. This means they can get earlier, potentially more effective treatment, or make informed decisions about their health. It can be helpful to imagine screening like putting people through a sieve. Most people pass straight through but a small number get caught in the sieve. The people caught in the sieve are those considered to have a higher chance of having the health problem being screened for.
Screening tests are not perfect. Some people will be told that they or their baby have a high chance of having a health problem when in fact they do not have the problem. Also, a few people will be told that they or their baby have a low chance of having a health problem when in fact they do have the problem.
During the first appointment with the midwife, you will be offered several tests. The tests are to check for different conditions that may affect you or your baby. The results of these tests are given at a future appointment; however, you may well be contacted earlier if a result requires some action. These tests include hepatitis and HIV.
You can choose to have a screening test for chromosomal abnormalities when you attend for your screening and ultrasound scan visit (between 11½ and just under 14 weeks of pregnancy).
The blood test measures the amount of two proteins PAPPA and FREE BETA HCG. These proteins appear naturally in your blood during pregnancy. A change in the level of these proteins can indicate an increased chance of abnormality, but doesn't give you a certain diagnosis.
The ultrasound uses sound waves to make a picture of your baby on a screen. It can show the age and position of your baby, and also if there is more than one baby. During the scan, the ultrasonographer will also measure the amount of fluid behind the neck of the baby - this test is called the nuchal translucency. This measurement, along with the baby’s age, your age, and the results of the biochemical tests will allow us to calculate the individual risk of the baby having a chromosomal abnormality such as Down’s syndrome. If the risk is increased, you will be offered the opportunity to discuss further with the doctor or midwife.
If it is considered appropriate for further follow up tests, the appropriate diagnostic tests will either be chorionic villus sampling (CVS) where a small amount of afterbirth is tested under ultrasound, or amniocentesis where a small amount of fluid from around the baby is tested.
Sickle cell and thalassaemia (SCD): screening in pregnancy for SCD and thalassaemia involves having a blood test. It is best to have the test ideally by eight weeks, to allow for your results to appear on your electronic medical records by 10 weeks. This test is offered to all women cared for through our Trust. Fine out more about screening tests for you and your baby
The screening will find out if you are a carrier of the sickle cell or thalassaemia gene and therefore likely to pass it on to the baby.
If you book after 13 weeks and 6 days, you can still have a blood test. This test is called the Quad test and includes four markers: Free-beta HCG, AFP, Unconjugated Estriol and Inhibin-A. It will detect around 80% of Down’s syndrome cases. Read more about Quad Tests.
An anomaly scan is undertaken between 18 and 20 weeks and checks the development of the baby.
Screening tests during pregnancy
A short video about screening tests offered during pregnancy and after your baby has been born. You can find leaflets in English and other languages in the information leaflet section further down this page.
Pre-eclampsia: what you need to know
You can download leaflets on pre-eclampsia information via the links below:
English language version
Non-English language versions
Flu vaccine information for pregnant women
Using QR codes to find maternity information
Our maternity services
Queen's Birth Centre
Movements Matter was launched by Tommy's, who aim to save babies’ lives by raising awareness of current guidelines around monitoring baby’s movements in pregnancy.
How to sleep safely during pregnancy
Should I take supplements during my pregnancy?
We encourage you to use eRedbook to record healthcare information about you child. This is a digital version of the Redbook given to you and all parents.
A paper version is still provided but the e-Redbook provides online access to:
- Antenatal advice and information
- timelines and reminders about screenings, health reviews and immunisations
- growth measurements and charts
- information and advice on a child’s developmental ‘firsts’ (feeding, moving, words and so on)
- tailored advice and information by age and location
You can add photos and your own notes, including antenatal records. And be able to share access with members of your family and, if you choose, health professionals.
e-Redbook receives the following records direct from your GP or health visitor:
- Initial birth notification details
- New-born screening test results
- Immunisations records
- Health checks
If you have any queries about eRedbook, contact your named midwife or health visitor.
Day assessment unit
Also known as the Obstetric Assessment unit
We have a day assessment unit, accepting women who are more than 20 weeks into their pregnancy. The units offer fetal monitoring, blood pressure checks, Anti D injections, glucose tolerance tests and pregnancy related advice.
The Day Assessment unit at Queen’s Hospital is open 7.30am to 6pm Monday to Sunday and can be contacted on 01708 503 826.
There is also a maternity triage department at Queen's Hospital located on labour ward. This is open 24/7. The telephone number is 01708 503 742.
Baby Buddy 2.0 app – localised pregnancy information
North East London (NEL) Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has a localised version of the free Baby Buddy app, which includes Queen’s Hospital.
Working in partnership with Queen’s, The Royal London, Homerton, Whipps Cross and Newham hospitals, the Baby Buddy 2.0 app features helpful information from each of the maternity units.
Pregnant people who are booked to give birth in NEL can get additional details about their maternity unit, including specialist maternity services offered, maternity helpline and antenatal and postnatal clinic phone numbers, visitor and parking information for birth partners and links to their local Maternity Voices Partnership.
The app also includes advice from midwives and features personal care and support plans, which can help you make informed choices about care for you and your baby.
The Baby Buddy 2.0 app is from the parenting charity, Best Beginnings. It’s designed to help parents give their child the best start in life, with bite sized information and advice from pregnancy, to birth, to their babies first year.
To download the app for free or for more information, visit the Baby Buddy website.
*Baby Buddy is endorsed by Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists, British Society of Paediatric Dentistry and Faculty of Public Health.
In order to keep pregnant women safe, due to the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) we have taken the decision to cancel all antenatal education at Queen’s Hospital and all community locations.
We understand that this is disappointing as the sessions provide useful information to assist you in your journey to parenthood and hope to re-instate this service as soon as possible. In the meantime, please do have a look at the websites and information below:
Water for labour and birth
Being in warm water during labour can be a really effective way of managing pain during the birth. It can have a positive impact on your experience as warm water can be comforting, relaxing and calming.
- Reducing the intensity of contractions
- Less use of pharmalogical pain management
- Increased mobility
- Reduced risk of perineal tears - your perineum is the area between your vagina and your bottom (anus)
- Better birth experience.
In our midwifery led Birth Centre at Queen’s Hospital we have two built-in birth pools, located in spacious rooms. We also have portable pools available for use in our other six rooms.
In our obstetric led Labour Ward we have one dedicated pool room and portable pools are also available.
Who can use the birthing pool?
- Uncomplicated, full-term pregnancy
- Women with a body mass index (BMI) under 35
- If you are having one baby, and the head is down into the pelvis
- Going into labour naturally
- If your waters have been broken for less than 24 hours.
Anyone outside the above criteria should discuss their plan with the consultant midwife for normality and midwifery-led care or the matron.
What should I wear?
Wear what you feel comfortable in. Some women choose to wear a bikini or tankini top, sports bra or vest top; others prefer to be naked. Loose and baggy clothes are not recommended.
We kindly ask that you wear something without clasps and remove jewellery whilst in the pool. We will provide small towels, and you nmay want to bring a large bath towel or dressing gown.
What temperate should the pool be?
The water temperature will be maintained at approximately 36.5oC to 37.5oC during labour. Closer to the time of birth a temperature of no more than 37 oC is best.
Can I get out of the pool for birth?
You may choose to give birth in the water or just use the pool throughout your labour and then exit the pool for the birth.
Can I birth the placenta in the pool?
Women who want to birth their placenta naturally without the use of pharmacological intervention may remain in the pool. If you opt to have an ‘actively managed’ delivery of the placenta with the use of a medicine given by injection, you will be asked to leave the pool.
When will I need to get out of the pool?
You will be encouraged to leave the pool occasionally to have a break from the water and pass urine.
You may also be asked to exit the pool if there are any concerns with you or your baby’s wellbeing, for example:
- Concerns in baby’s heart rate
- Lack of progress in labour or your contractions slow down
- To give pain relief, for example, if requesting pethidine or an epidural
- Vaginal bleeding.
How can I find out further information?
Water birth workshops are held weekly at Queen’s Birth Centre. Please ask your midwife for further information on how to book. If you would like this information in an alternative format, or if you need help with communicating with us, please let us know.
Telephone: 01708 435454 or 020 8970 8234.
If you are deaf or unable to communicate with us using telephone or email, we have a text service which can be contacted on 07800 005 502.
Making decisions together
Having a baby is an emotional, intense and life-changing event. We will do everything to make your birth a positive experience for you and any birth partner you have. It is important that you are involved in any decisions about your care during labour and birth.
A number of staff may be involved in your care. These could include midwives (experts in labour and birth), support workers, nursery nurses, nurses, and doctors such as obstetricians, anaesthetists and neonatologists.
We will talk with you about what you can expect when you have your baby – and ask about your hopes and expectations and explain your options, so that you can decide what is best for you. We will read your birth plan if you have one and talk with you about it - and make sure that you feel in control of what happens during labour, and ask your permission before carrying out any checks.
We think it is a good idea to have a birth partner with you during labour to offer support. This could be your partner, a family member or a friend. We will treat you and your birth partner with kindness and respect.
You will be offered one-to-one care and support throughout labour. You can play your choice of music, and make your room comfortable to suit you.
You will be able to drink during labour when you want to. You may also want to eat a light snack if you are hungry. But if there is a chance you might need a general anaesthetic, you will be advised not to eat.
You will be encouraged and helped to move around and change position to find the most comfortable one for you.
If you think you have gone into labour ring the number on the front of your notes: 01708 503 742 for advice - the midwife will:
- ask how you are feeling, and about your birth plans, hopes and any concerns
- ask about your baby's movements, and especially about any changes in this
- explain what you can expect in the early stage of labour, including things you can try to help with pain
- offer you support, and pain relief if needed
- encourage you to stay at home, or return home, until your contractions start coming more often.
When you come to Queen's Hospital to have your baby, please use the maternity car park as a drop-off location. However, we advise that you park your car in our multi-storey car park for the duration of your stay. Please report to the maternity reception to be seen.
Your waters may break before you go into labour. If you or your midwife thinks your waters might have broken but are not sure, you should be offered an examination with a device called a speculum. You shouldn't have this type of examination if it is obvious that your waters have broken.
You will be offered to wait to see if you go into labour (six out of 10 women whose waters break go into labour on their own within 24 hours) or to start your labour artificially – this is called inducing labour. This is because your waters breaking before labour starts increases your baby's risk of serious infection (from a chance of five in 1,000 to a chance of 10 in 1,000 births).
During labour, your cervix (neck of the womb) dilates (opens) so that your baby can pass through. When it has dilated to about 4 cm, you are said to be in established or active labour – your contractions will come more often and get stronger.
If you are having your first baby, the first stage of labour usually lasts about 8 to18 hours. If you have had a baby before, the first stage of established labour usually lasts about 5 -12 hours.
Your midwife will offer vaginal examinations during labour. These are done to check how far your cervix (neck of the womb) has opened (dilated) and the position of your baby's head. Your midwife will always explain why an examination is being advised and what it will involve. It should only be carried out with your agreement.
You may be offered a vaginal examination during the early checks, especially if the midwife thinks you are in established labour. But this is not always necessary, and your own wishes should be taken into account.
Your midwife should explain to you and your birth companion(s) what the examinations show.
Once your cervix is fully dilated, your baby's head will start moving down through your vagina. This is called the second stage of labour. Even when your cervix is fully dilated, you may not have an urge to push with your contractions straight away – this is called the passive second stage.
The active second stage is when you have an urge to push with most contractions, and ends when your baby is born. The birth is expected to take place within three hours of the start of active pushing in most women having their first baby, and within two hours for most women who have had a baby before.
Your midwife will help, encourage and talk to you, and monitor both you and your baby closely. You will be guided by your own urge to push. Your midwife will encourage you not to lie on your back but instead to find another position that is comfortable. If pushing doesn't seem to be working well or you are feeling tired, you may be advised to change position, and to empty your bladder if needed.
When your baby/ies are born you may choose to hold them straight away after the birth. We will encourage you to have skin-to-skin contact with your baby, and they will be covered with a towel or blanket for warmth. Your baby's cord will not be clamped or cut straight away. We will support you to feed your baby, you can do so as soon as you wish, and you will be encouraged to start within one hour of the birth. You shouldn't be separated from your baby, unless it is essential for us to provide urgent care.
After your baby is born, your midwife will check how you are. The placenta (which is also known as the afterbirth) will be delivered or pushed out. This is called the third stage of labour. You can usually hold your baby during this stage if you want to.
When you are pregnant, a midwife will explain to you about the two options for the third stage, and about the pros and cons of each. They are called active management and physiological management:
- An injection of a drug called syntometrine or oxytocin is given into your thigh, usually immediately after you give birth
- The cord is clamped and cut between one and five minutes after the birth
- The placenta is gently pulled out by the midwife once it has separated from the wall of the uterus (womb) – usually within 30 minutes
- Lowers the risk of heavy bleeding (haemorrhage)
- Increases the chance you may feel sick or vomit
- No injection is given
- The cord is clamped and cut once it has stopped pulsating
- You will push your placenta out with contractions – this can take up to one hour
Your midwife will discuss these options with you again in the early stage of labour. You will be advised to have active management of the third stage, but will be asked about your preferences. If you have a low risk of heavy blood loss, you may choose to have physiological management.
Our Birth Centre
The new Queen's Birth Centre opened in January 2013, providing a home-from-home environment for childbirth, led by experienced midwives. If you are expected to have a normal birth and there are no other concerns such as high blood pressure, you can choose to have your baby here. Talk to your midwife for more information.
We aim to provide a safe and supportive environment for pregnancy and birth for you, your baby and your family. Whether your pregnancy is straightforward or more complicated, whether you choose to give birth at home, in the Queen's Birth Centre or on the Labour ward, at all times we strive to provide excellent maternity care that meets your individual needs.
We have recently made major investments in our maternity facilities, training and staffing levels, and we offer one-to-one care in labour, and one of the best levels of midwifery and obstetric staffing in the country. One of our specialist teams has recently been nominated for a Royal College of Midwives award and we have increasing levels of positive feedback from local mothers and organisations that check the quality of care.
Antenatal and postnatal care is available on both sites and in the community setting outside hospital - please speak to your midwife for more information.
How we monitor your baby during labour
Your midwife will monitor your baby during labour to make sure they are coping okay.
Monitoring of your baby can be performed using either:
- a Pinard stethoscope (a small wooden, plastic or metal device)
- an electronic device called a Doppler (also known as a sonicaid). The hand held doppler has the benefit that you can hear your baby’s heartbeat.
The frequency of monitoring varies according to which phase of labour you are in. Your baby's heart beat will be listened to every 15 minutes at the start of labour (first stage of labour) and in the second stage at least every five minutes. This is called ‘intermittent auscultation’. You'll be free to move around as much as you want in-between contractions.
During the course of labour your clinical circumstances may change or we may suspect abnormalities in your baby’s heart rate through monitoring intermittently. If this happens we will recommend changing to continuously monitoring your baby’s heart. Electronic monitoring involves placing two pads onto your tummy that are held on with straps.
One pad is used to monitor how often your contractions are coming and the other is used to monitor your baby's heartbeat. The pads are attached to a monitor that shows your baby's heartbeat and your contractions on a graph (CTG).
Continuous monitoring in labour can only be performed on the main labour ward at Queen’s. If you are at home or on our birth centre we will recommend we move to the labour ward for continuous monitoring and to be seen by an obstetric doctor. We will talk to you and involve you in any decisions about your care.
Community midwives provide antenatal care for expectant mothers, care in labour for homebirths and postnatal care.
There are three groups of community midwives working in the following areas:
• Barking and Dagenham
• Havering and Brentwood
The community midwife will usually be the first person you meet along your pregnancy journey. She will complete your booking appointment taking all your history and planning your individualised care pathway. The remainder of your antenatal care will be with either the community midwife, GP or shared with the obstetrician at the hospital according to your needs. Community Midwife Antenatal Clinics are held in children’s centres, GP surgeries or health centres.
After your baby is born, the midwife will visit you within 24 hours of you leaving hospital to check both you and your baby. The amount and frequency of visits will be planned with you at the first visit but please be aware that the midwife does not visit every day. She will leave contact numbers for advice 24 hours a day. There are also postnatal clinics that are held throughout the boroughs to help you during your transition into parenthood.
Breastfeeding gives your baby the best start in life – you can provide all the nutrients they need and skin-to-skin contact from the start will help you both form a close, loving bond. It protects her against infection and disease, it’s free and convenient, and it has all different types of health benefits for you, too.
We’re baby friendly
We know that some of our mums and babies can find breast feeding difficult at first, which is completely natural. That’s where we come in - we’re a Baby Friendly Stage 2 accredited hospital, so if you have any questions about feeding your baby, our midwives are more than happy to help.
Come along to one of our Infant Feeding Cafes [pdf] 240KB
Infant feeding team
If you need more help and support, our infant feeding team are on hand to give you practical advice, make care plans for your baby, and we can even refer to services closer to home when you leave hospital.
We’re available Monday to Friday, so if you want to chat while you’re in hospital, speak to a member of the ward team. Email us at email@example.com.
Breast or formula – it’s your choice – and we’ll support you whichever way you go. We don’t hold a stock of formula and we have nowhere to make bottles, so it’s best to bring ready-made.
Remember to use small bottles to cut down on waste:
- They take up less space in our fridges
- Storage time might be shorter than what you’re used to at home because our fridges are in constant use
Birth reflections service
Do you have any questions about your care in our labour wards or your birthing experience? We’d love to talk. If you gave birth in our hospitals, you can meet with one of our experienced midwives, and we’ll go through your care records together to answer any questions you might have.
You might feel that a part of your care was unexpected, unplanned, or confusing. You might feel your expectations were not met, or your birth plans may have changed due to medical concerns. During our conversation we can look back your birth story to fill in the gaps.
When you’re ready, you can call us on 020 8970 5757 to book an appointment. Sessions last an hour and you’re welcome to attend on your own, with your partner, your family or a friend.
Our booking line is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 3pm.
We can’t wait to meet you.
Emotional and Mental Health Support and Services
Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP) will continue their national peer support services throughout the outbreak. The APP forum is available for people affected by PP to talk to other women and partners.
They offer one to one peer support for anyone in the UK, where people are paired with an APP coordinator with lived experience, or a volunteer peer supporter. They offer one to one peer support via email, private messaging on the forum, or via video call. Their regional postpartum psychosis cafe groups will also continue via video call. People personally affected by PP (woman, partner, family members) who would like to access this support should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maternal OCD provides guidance and resources for coping with COVID-19 for people with perinatal OCD
Beat Eating Disorders provides resources for people with eating disorders during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Depression and other perinatal mental illnesses
The PANDAS Foundation provides support and advice for any parent and their networks who need support with perinatal mental illness.
Anxiety UK offers support, advice and information on a range of anxiety, stress and anxiety-based depression condition via email, text and live chat services.
Anxiety self help guide
Maternal Mental Health Alliance
Mental Health Problems in Pregnancy
Many women face mental health problems in their lifetime and these can have a serious impact on a woman’s ability to cope with day-to-day life. Mental health can change in pregnancy; severe depression and anxiety are the most common. If you have mental health issues it is important to realise that you are not alone.
Maternity Services at BHRUT Work with NELFT (North East London Foundation Trust) to provide a safe, high quality antenatal mental health service. We offer psychiatric and psychological assessment, treatment and care – for women suffering from emotional psychiatric disorders associated with pregnancy and childbirth. This is offered for women who live within the BHRUT and NELFT areas. If you choose to book your pregnancy at BHRUT and live outside of the NELFT area, we will offer you a referral to your local service.
We will assess you if you have a history of serious mental illness (SMI) including schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder and psychotic depression. Advice is also offered on psychotropic medication during pregnancy. We will refer you on to your local mental health services when required.
We are happy to offer advice regarding medication and the management of non-emergency mental health difficulties in the perinatal period. In case of an acute mental health emergency please contact your local Emergency Department.
We have a multi-professional team (MDT) including consultant psychiatrist, consultant obstetrician, psychiatrists, midwives, nurses, specialist therapist and counsellors.
You will be invited to an initial assessment with one of the team and then followed up in our joint antenatal clinic and a plan for follow-up will be discussed according to individual need. We liaise with GPs, health visitors, community mental health clinicians, children’s centres and social care to ensure you are signposted to the most appropriate support for your mental health needs in pregnancy.
Aftercare is dependent on the nature of your mental health difficulty and the availability of appropriate services. After the initial assessment you may continue to be managed by your GP or if you need more intensive support, we will refer you to an appropriate service.
Frequently asked Questions
How many appointments will I be offered?
This depends on the clinic you attend and will be discussed with you at your initial assessment.
What should I do if I suddenly feel worse?
Please contact your GP or if you feel you need urgent help with your mental health attend your local Emergency Department.
Can I be seen by the service after I have had my baby?
This will depend on the nature of your illness and will be discussed and planned with you when you are pregnant.
Who will my information be shared with?
We always write to your GP and other health and social care professionals who may be involved in your care. Your health visitor will also be made aware of your contact with our service.
Should I stop my medication now I am pregnant?
No, please make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible to discuss the safety of your medication in pregnancy. It is important not to stop your medication suddenly as this could lead to deterioration in your mental health. Your GP can also contact our team psychiatrist for telephone advice about this.
On what days of the week are clinics held?
Wednesdays at King George Hospital (9am – 1pm)
If my referral is accepted by the team, how long will I have to wait for an appointment?
We endeavour to offer appointments as soon as one is available and this usually means you should not have to wait longer than 3-4 weeks between us receiving your referral and your appointment date.
Can I refer myself to the service?
Yes, however we are unable to accept referrals made by family members on your behalf.
- Perinatal Parent Infant Mental Health Service – 03005551119
- Mental health 24-hour Helpline 0300 555 1000
- Maternity 24-Hour Helpline – 01708 503742
External Maternity patient leaflets
There are a number of resources produced by external organisations that may be beneficial for you to read. These are:
- A guide to COVID-19 vaccination All women of childbearing age, those currently pregnant or breastfeeding
- Covid-19 vaccines and fertility
- Third or fourth-degree tear during birth
- Air travel in pregnancy
- Alcohol and pregnancy
- All about flu and how to stop getting it
- Antipsychotics in pregnancy and breastfeeding
- Aquanatal guidelines: guidance on antenal and postnatal exercises in the water
- Assisted Vaginal Birth (ventouse or forceps)
- Baby movements
- Being overweight in pregnancy and after birth
- Birth options after previous caesarean section
- Bleeding and/or pain in early pregnancy
- Breech Baby at the end of pregnancy
- Cervical stitch
- Chickenpox and pregnancy
- Choosing to have a caesarean section
- Contraceptive choices after you've had your baby
- Diagnosis and treatment of venous thrombosis in pregnancy and after birth
- Early miscarriage
- Exercise and advice following pregnancy
- Epilepsy in pregnancy
- Feeling your baby move is a sign that they are well
- Female genital mutilation (FGM)
- Fit following birth
- Fit for birth
- Fit for the future
- Flu vaccination: who should have it this winter and why
- Group B Streptococcus (GBS) in pregnancy and newborn babies
- Headache after an epidural or spinal injection
- Healthy eating and vitamin supplements
- Heavy bleeding after birth (postpartum haemorrhage)
- Hepatitis B: explaining the screening result
- High blood pressure in pregnancy decision aid
- How to inject Clexane
- HIV: explaining the screening result
- Labour pain and pain relief - international translations
- Lithium in pregnancy and breastfeeding
- Metformin treatment in pregnancy
- Mother and baby units
- Mothers with diabetes
- Multiple pregnancy
- Obstetric Cholestasis
- Pelvic floor muscles - a guide for women
- Pelvic girdle pain and pregnancy
- Perineal tears during childbirth
- Perinatal care and Covid-19
- Perinatal OCD - information for carers
- Physical activity and pregnancy
- Post-natal care for gestational diabetes (GDM)
- Postpartum psychosis - information for carers
- Pregnancy Sickness
- Protecting and improving the nation's health Vitamin D
- Reducing the risk of venous thrombosis in pregnancy and after birth
- Screening tests for you and your baby
- Screening tests for you and your baby: easy guides
- Smoking and pregnancy
- Syphilis: explaining the screening result
- TB, BCG and your baby
- The flu vaccination: Who should have it and why?
- Valproate in women and girls who could get pregnant
- Vitamins In pregnancy
- What are perinatal mental health services?
- Your choice: where to have your baby – for women having their first baby
- Your choice: where to have your baby – for women who have had a baby before
- Whooping cough and pregnancy