Cheshire and Mersey Specialist Perinatal Service

The Cheshire and Mersey Specialist Perinatal Service supports mums, babies and families where mum is either experiencing or at significant risk of complex or severe mental health difficulties during the perinatal period. The perinatal period means throughout pregnancy and up until the baby's first birthday. We have three teams – one in Liverpool and Sefton, one in Mid Mersey and one in Cheshire and Wirral.

What is perinatal mental health?

Although it can be a wonderful time, pregnancy and being a new parent can be a stressful, overwhelming and worrying time too. At least 20% of new mums will struggle with their mental health during this period – most commonly experiencing some form of low mood or anxiety.

A smaller group of mums will go on to experience more severe struggles with their mental health. That might include more severe symptoms of depression or anxiety, extreme fear of birth, post traumatic stress (sometimes relating to a recent or previous experience of childbirth), or more rarely post partum psychosis. In some cases mums might also really struggle to form a bond with their baby, or feel able to meet their baby's needs as their head is full up with difficult feelings.

Those who have a history of mental health difficulties are at even greater risk, but a significant number struggle for the first time in this period and it's important that all women's experiences are taken seriously.

Why you might be referred

There are lots of services available to help women who are struggling. Many of our local maternity providers have specialist perinatal midwives who are able to offer advice, support and signposting to the women using their services. There are several voluntary sector providers who can offer support and your local Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies service can also be a good source of support (if you Google "IAPT" and your local area it should be easy to find them).

Where you or others are more concerned about your mental health, because for example:

  • Your low mood or anxiety are significantly impacting on your ability to function day to day
  • You are having thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby
  • You are having unusual experiences which mean you aren't always feeling in touch with reality

They might refer you to our team. It's really important to remember that we are here to support you, lots of mums tell us that they're scared of their baby being taken away and this is an incredibly rare thing to happen. Our work is about helping you to feel back to yourself again and able to enjoy being a mum.

What the service can offer?

Our work falls roughly into three areas:

Preconception planning appointments

We offer one-off preconception planning appointments for those who have a history of significant mental health problems, want to discuss their medication prior to pregnancy or have specific concerns about how pregnancy or parenthood could impact on their mental health.

Specialist assessment and intervention

We have a multidisciplinary team of professionals in each area, which consists of:

  • Perinatal psychiatrists
  • Clinical psychologists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Mental health nurses
  • Perinatal support workers
  • And of course our dedicated admin staff who also understand what you might be experiencing

If you are offered an assessment appointment this will usually take around and hour and gives the clinician that you meet a chance to get to know you and what you're experiencing, and come up with a plan together for what might be helpful. That might include medication, psychological or occupational therapies, practical support to help you get back to where you want to be, and support with your own feelings and / or your relationship with your baby. We are also able to support families to access to specialist inpatient settings where necessary.

Support to other professionals

We are very keen to work with other professionals to ensure that families have a smooth pathway through services. That might include offering support around mental health to our maternity or health visiting colleagues (among others), or support around the perinatal context to our mental health colleagues.

We provide telephone advice to professionals throughout our office hours about anyone they have concerns about (even if their needs may not be severe enough to access a direct service). This can also include offering advice to GPs and others about prescribing in this period.

We also offer a range of training packages and are really keen to tailor this offer to the needs of our local providers so please do get in touch if this is of interest.

Contact details

Unfortunately we aren't able to accept self referrals to our service at this point so if you would like to be referred please speak to our GP, Midwife, Health Visitor or any other professional that you're working with.

For professionals wishing to discuss anything or make a referral, the contact details for our three teams are as follows:

North West Boroughs Team:
Cheshire and Mersey Specialist Perinatal Service – North West Boroughs NHS Foundation Trust
Specialist Perinatal Service,
2nd Floor,
Hollins Park Hospital,
Hollins Lane,
Winwick,
Warrington,
WA2 8WA
Tel: 01925 275 303
Cheshire and Wirral Team:
Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Team – Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
Cherrybank Resource Centre,
Wellington Road,
Ellesmere Port,
CH65 0BX
Tel: 0151-488-8434
Merseycare Team:
Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Service - Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust
Liverpool Womens Hospital,
Crown Street,
Liverpool
L8 7SS
Tel: 0151 702 4012

Specialist Mental Health Midwives

Specialist Mental Health Midwives play a crucial role in improving the quality of maternity services and supporting the development and implementation of integrated pathways of care for women with perinatal mental illness. They are a critical part of multiagency perinatal mental health clinical pathways. However they are neither a substitute for specialist perinatal mental health care, nor for the mental health care delivered by all midwives. Mental health care is a core part of the role of all midwives: good maternity care means achieving good maternal mental and physical health, thereby improving outcomes for women and their families in this generation and the next.

What do Perinatal Midwives do?

Perinatal Mental Health Midwives provide the following:

  • Perinatal mental Health education and training for Midwives to ensure the Perinatal mental Health needs of all women are integrated in to their maternity care
  • A source of advice for Midwives and other Clinicians
  • Act as champions, ensuring perinatal mental health is everybody's business
  • Contributing to the development and implementation of Perinatal mental Health care Pathways
  • A point of contact for the multidisciplinary team with regard to perinatal mental health
  • Ensure quality improvement through the adoption and implementation of the latest national policies and evidence based care regarding perinatal mental health
  • Providing specialist support and expert advice to women and their families, ensuring integrated care across the multidisciplinary midwifery, obstetric and mental health teams.
  • A strategic role to liaise with other mental health professionals.

The Perinatal Mental Health Midwifery services are tailored according to the local population so may vary across the region.

Building Attachment and Bonds Service (BABS) - Knowsley

Building Bonds and Breaking Cycles' – The Importance of Supporting Parent and Infant Mental Health and Building Bonds in Knowsley'

Who we are?

Our national award winning service supports parents to build secure attachments and loving bonds with their babies, whilst breaking negative life cycles.

We provide easy to access community based therapeutic interventions and support, for pregnant women, new parents and their partners, who are struggling with their emotional wellbeing and/or adjusting to their new born baby.

By offering attachment-based therapeutic support in the antenatal/postnatal period, we are able to help parents 'separate out' all of the difficulties that get in the way and impact on the parent-infant bond and relationship.

We are a friendly team of Clinical Psychologists, Midwives and Volunteers who are passionate and committed to supporting parents and infants in the Knowsley community.

We aim to support parents to manage their mental health, emotional wellbeing and build happy, secure and loving relationships with their babies. Sessions are offered to families either in the family home or at Knowsley Children's Centre. Find out how to get in touch over on our website http://www.nwbh.nhs.uk/babs-knowsley

Further information / online resources

  • Tommy's - www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/im-pregnant/mental-wellbeing Mental wellbeing in pregnancy – patient information written by midwives
  • Action on Postpartum Psychosis - www.app-network.org/ A national charity for women and families affected by postpartum psychosis. Provides information and peer support, including online forums and workshops
  • Beating Bipolar - www.beatingbipolar.org An interactive internet based programme that aims to improve understanding of the condition. It includes video of professionals and people with lived experience of bipolar disorder. Includes a module about pregnancy for women with Bipolar Disorder: www.beatingbipolar.org/women_and_bipolar/
  • Best Beginnings - www.bestbeginnings.org.uk/ Baby Buddy App – allows you to create a Bump Buddy avatar to guide you through your pregnancy. Provides information about many aspects of pregnancy and parenting, including mental wellbeing, in the form of short video clips
  • Best Use of Medicines in Pregnancy (BUMPS) - www.medicinesinpregnancy.org/ Information leaflets for women and their partners about use of a medication in pregnancy
  • Maternal OCD - Support and Information for women with Perinatal Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
    Twitter support group: #Bumpsandmumsocdhr
  • Netmums - www.netmums.com Information and support on many aspects pregnancy and parenting, including local resources
  • PANDAS - www.pandasfoundation.org.uk Antenatal and postnatal depression information and support for women and families. Support groups and helpline
  • PND and Me - www.pndandme.co.uk/ Website and online support group for sufferers of perinatal mental illness with links to information and a range of resources around this topic. Set up by a mum who had postnatal depression. Includes peer support through Twitter: #PNDHour & #PNDChat