Emotional health & wellbeing

Pregnancy can be a very exciting and happy time, but it can also be overwhelming. Lots of things can change when you have a baby such as careers put on hold, financial strains and relationship problems. If you have had in the past, or now have, severe mental health problems, you are more likely to become ill during pregnancy or in the first year after giving birth than at other times in your life.

Around 10% of pregnant women experience feelings such as anxiety, low mood, unhappiness, and anger which are hard to shift.

If these emotions last longer than two weeks and interfere with your ability to enjoy life and complete normal day to day activities, you may be experiencing antenatal or postnatal depression. Depression during and after pregnancy can vary from mild to severe and can affect women in different ways. Please speak to your midwives, health visitor or GP if you are concerned.

Attachment, bonding, and wellbeing

Infant mental health and bonding
In essence, infant mental health refers to the emotional wellbeing of your baby and the growing bond between you.

Science and research tells us that experiencing consistent sensitive and loving relationships when we are babies gives us the ability to control our own emotions, gives us a sense of self-esteem and helps to build positive attachments with others across our life.

Sometimes it is difficult to work out what your baby wants. Babies can be very puzzling at first and working out how to respond to their needs can be a challenge! Knowing about a baby’s individual patterns and preferences, such as the best ways of soothing, can help you as a parent enjoy the first weeks and months more.

All Health Visitors and Community Nursery Nurses in the Torbay area have received training about infant mental health, and your named Health Visitor will be happy to have a supportive conversation with you regarding how to build a close and loving relationship with your baby. Please see the below links for more information.

Antenatal depression

Depression in pregnancy (antenatal depression) is also common, affecting more than 1 in 10 women.

Other mental health symptoms that can occur during or after your pregnancy include anxiety, panic attacks and psychosis. Read more about mental health in pregnancy

Dads mental health

Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. For example, you may feel worried and anxious about being a Dad or if you’re going to be good enough. During times like these, feeling anxious can be perfectly normal. You can talk to your midwife or health visitor, or G/P about this. We may be enough, or we may tell you about other services for you. You are so important in your child’s life; we want you to be the best Dad you possibly can be.

Mental health and learning disability services are provided by Devon Partnership NHS Trust. For more information, please see our Accessing mental health services page.


Men are more likely to recognize and describe the physical symptoms of depression (such as feeling tired, or losing or gaining weight) than women. Men may acknowledge feeling irritable or angry, rather than saying they feel low. Everyone feels ‘down’ occasionally but if you have been sad, moody, angry or unable to sleep or concentrate for more than a couple of weeks, it could be depression. Dad’s get post natal depression too, so especially around the time of having a new baby, where there are a lot of life changes, it is important to talk to someone about how you are feeling.

Depression is a serious and common condition which won’t get better by itself. If you had a broken arm or a deep cut on your foot, you wouldn’t expect that to heal without medical help. It’s the same with mental illness such as depression, you need to get help and the first point must be your doctor, midwife or health visitor.

Depression and anxiety (Adults)

Devon Partnership Trust’s TALKWORKS is a free, confidential, NHS talking therapy service for adults, offering effective treatments and therapies, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

Mental health in pregnancy

Being pregnant is a big life event and it is natural to feel a lot of different emotions. But if you’re feeling sad and it’s starting to affect your life, there are things you can try that may help. Find out more at NHS mental health in pregnancy

Perinatal mental health and wellbeing

Perinatal distress affects 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men during pregnancy and in the first year after birth. Most common mental health concerns are depression and anxiety. However individuals may experience low mood, no pleasure, feel tearful, worry excessively, have odd thoughts, become increasingly obsessional in behaviour, feel helpless, find it difficult to care for their baby and/or feel close to their baby.

There are many reasons why individuals experience this distress. Here are some which you may relate to; hormonal changes, adapting to parenthood, post traumatic birth experience, lack of support, lack of sleep, ‘pressure to do things right’, social challenges, and difficult memories may re-surface.

Through evidence and experience we know that seeking help early can really support you to make a difference to how you feel about your baby, yourself, your relationship and your enjoyment of being a parent.

You are not alone and the following ideas may help: resting when you can, eating /drinking healthily, getting support from family/friends, talking to people, access to counselling, attending a local support group, exercise, medication, self help strategies, reading relevant information and time.

We would also recommend that you talk with your Midwife, Health Visiting Team and/or GP; they can offer additional support and signpost you to helpful services. You will not feel this way for ever so get the best help for you and your family now. Below are some useful informative websites.

Postnatal depression

Postnatal depression is a type of depression that many parents experience after having a baby.

It’s a common problem, affecting more than 1 in every 10 women within a year of giving birth. It can also affect fathers and partners. Find out more here.


The Wellbeing Plan is a two-page plan, endorsed by NICE, that helps you start thinking about how you feel and what support you might need in your pregnancy and after the birth.

Mental health and learning disability services are provided by Devon Partnership NHS Trust. For more information, please see our Accessing mental health services page.

Wellbeing Wheel
Download the wellbeing wheel and think about how often you….

5 steps to wellbeing

Information, advice and support

Links to websites and information you may find useful.

Postnatal depression self help guide

Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust – Self help guide on Postnatal depression

Image: TalkWorks logo

TalkWorks – Parental support for mental health

Being pregnant and having a baby is thought of as a happy and exciting time. However, for some women and new parents, it doesn’t always feel this way and can be an extremely overwhelming experience.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our lives, it’s a difficult time to be having a baby. With less support groups, increased health worries and less contact with loved ones, we’re here to help you cope during this stressful transition.

Bluebell Charity

Supporting parents’ mental health and wellbeing during pregnancy, birth and beyond.


Explains postnatal depression and other perinatal mental health problems, including possible causes, treatments and support options. Also has information for friends and family, including support and advice for partners.

Baby Buddy App

Developed by UK charity Best Beginnings in collaboration with parents, healthcare professionals and partner charities across the country: the free Baby Buddy app is with you throughout your pregnancy and parenting journey, day by day.

Image: Hub of Hope logo

Hub of Hope, support for mental health concerns

The Hub of Hope is a first of its kind, national mental health database which brings together organisations and charities, large and small, from across the country who offer mental health advice and support, together in one place.

Mental Health Services in Torbay 

(including Perinatal mental health team): 01803 396590

Institute of Health Visiting

Top tips for parents – use our helpful factsheets to find expert advice on key areas of looking after your baby or child

Building a happy baby: a guide for parents

A leaflet offering advice and information for parents on getting to know their baby and setting up the foundations for a close and loving relationship.

Support for new parents

There is support available for new parents. It can be helpful to know how to look after yourself, what support you can get, and where to find extra support. 

Having another baby

Lots of information and advice about having another baby.