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Maternal mental health needs to be at heart of care - Pat Buckley TD

19 June, 2019 - by Pat Buckley TD

Sinn Féin Mental Health spokesperson Pat Buckley TD has said that the mental health of women during and after pregnancy must be at the core of maternal care. 

The Cork East TD made his comments in support of a motion being debated in the Dáil tonight, which calls for improvements to maternity care.

Deputy Buckley said;

“For too long the mental health of pregnant women and new mothers was treated with very little concern. Whilst we recognise the problems, which about 11,000 Irish women experience every year, we have done little to provide supports and solutions for them.

"The biological, psychological and social impacts that pregnancy and child birth can have on women should be every bit as much of a concern for our health services as the physical and medical responses provided already.

"Women during and after pregnancy need diagnostic and treatment services which ensure their mental well-being. Depression and anxiety in particular during and after pregnancy cannot be trivialised.

"The restructuring of reproductive health care, as a woman centred model, is crucial to ensuring that depression related to pregnancy and childbirth is treated seriously.

"Screening and care should be provided to women during and after pregnancy to the standards of international best practice.

"We need to see the development of a peri and post natal mental health service which provides peri-natal screening for mental health, with a minimum of one screening per trimester.

"We need peri-natal mental health units working together, located north and south.

"The government must a post-natal screening model through GP’s and Paediatricians with bi-monthly screenings or alternatively in conjunction with the immunisation schedule.

"We also need to develop educational and supportive materials for the woman and her partner if applicable in order to better identify issues early on, and to prevent issues arising through self-care.

"Free counselling sessions should be provided to women after pregnancy and all women should receive a home visit from an appropriate professional within first 3 months after end of pregnancy.

"A policy that places the health of the woman as the primary consideration at all times in choosing any treatment.”

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