Published on: 3rd May 2021
Perinatal mental health relates to the time from pregnancy through to the first year of having a baby and perinatal mental health problems can affect up to 20% of new and expectant mums.
Penny Maughan, from Blackley, is a senior mental health practitioner and specialist in perinatal mental health.
Penny shared her story about how her own personal experience of losing a baby led her to a career supporting other women:
“I’ve been a mental health practitioner for over 20 years. Six years ago I experienced the still birth of my little girl. I became very unwell, mentally drained and exhausted and found it very difficult to cope. Whilst I was well supported thanks to my family and I did have therapy – I was also very aware that more support needs to be available to women.
As a result of my experience, I developed an interest and passion in perinatal mental health and I am now perinatal clinical lead for Tameside and Glossop neighbourhood mental health team.
In my role I run a perinatal clinic for women and usually see five patients a week. The women I see may have existing mental health problems; had a miscarriage or still birth; have feelings of anxiety about children born following a miscarriage or still birth; or they are dealing with a complex birth trauma. I also provide clinical leadership across the borough relating to issues on perinatal mental health – this could include crisis intervention and clinical support to our liaison mental health team.
In my role, it is so important that as clinicians we are sensitive to women’s mental health and experiences of loss or trauma during the perinatal period. My own personal experience means that I can relate to the women I see; reassure them that everything they are feeling is normal and that as a mum it’s ok not to be ok. I can also help ensure that our organisation is developing and providing services that women need - there should never be any shame in saying that you’re struggling and that you are finding things difficult.”
Penny, who is studying a masters degree to become an advanced clinical practitioner, has two sons aged 12 and 4 and together they have raised over £4000 for Tommy’s, a charity that funds research into the causes of baby loss. As part of Tameside and Glossop’s ‘Babies Can't Wait’ initiative, we have an integrated perinatal and parent-infant mental health pathway which means our community perinatal team, specialist mental health midwife and Tameside and Glossop early attachment service work closely together.