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Health Minister: Support for women and parents crucial

Pregnancy, and the birth of a new child can be both a joyous and an emotionally challenging time.

The Government recognises that women with depression both during and after pregnancy need care and support, not stigma. That's why early diagnosis and support for women and parents is so important, and it is midwives who provide the vital personalised, one to one care for women and families during pregnancy and childbirth.

That is why the Government has invested in over 900 additional midwives working in the NHS since 2010.

– Health minister Dr Dan Poulter

Antenatal depression can be 'very difficult for parents'

Sally Russell, co-founder of Netmums, who jointly founded the report, said antenatal depression can make it very difficult for parents.

Depression and anxiety can be common in pregnancy, sometimes making life very difficult for both the parents and new baby. Midwives can do a lot to help and reassure, so should be open with mothers and fathers-to-be about the condition and trained to spot the signs.

Those suffering often don't know who to talk to, so it's essential they know they can be open and honest about how they are feeling with midwives.

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Report reveals antenatal depression affects relationship with baby

Half of the 260 women surveyed in the The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and Netmums study revealed that antenatal depression affected their relationship with their baby.

This survey shows that there is an urgent need to identify and help women with depression in pregnancy and after the birth of their baby. If we can identify women as early as possible then we could prevent them declining into much more serious mental health problems.

The Government has made a promise to women that they will be offered better support postnatally and that more will be done to spot and support postnatal depression. However, we know that antenatal and postnatal services are suffering as a result of budget cuts and a shortage of midwives.

This is in addition to the postcode lottery of service provision for women with postnatal depression. If this situation is not rectified, the NHS will continue to fail women with mental health problems during pregnancy or birth and the Government's pledge would be judged to be an empty promise.

– Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the RCM

Antenatal depression support call

More needs to be done to spot and support women suffering with antenatal depression, experts have warned today.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) said that more attention needs to be paid to the condition, which is less known and talked about than postnatal depression.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) have said more needs to be done to spot and support women suffering with antenatal depression. Credit: David Jones/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The RCM made the comments after a new poll found that more than a third of women who suffer depression during pregnancy have suicidal thoughts.

And four in five mothers surveyed who suffered with depression in pregnancy went on to struggle with postnatal depression.

Surrogate mother left 'stunned' by the law

John Healey, the MP for Wentworth and Dearne, outlined the case of Jane Kassim, a teaching assistant in South Yorkshire:

Like any mother Jane had begun to make preparations for the birth. She'd asked her employer for maternity leave and then was stunned a few weeks later when she found out that she had no legal right to maternity leave and no legal right to maternity pay. She had confidently expected to take up to 52 weeks leave, she'd expected to get 39 weeks maternity pay, just like any mother giving birth to their own child or adopting a child is able to do.

But unlike other mothers...having her baby through a surrogate mother, she is entitled only to 13 weeks parental leave unpaid and then only entitled to it when she and her husband have a parental order in place formally transferring the legal responsibility and legal rights from Amy to them.

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Surrogate mothers 'deserve equal rights'

Former shadow Health Secretary John Healey wants to bring in a Bill to make leave, pay and allowance arrangements for parents of children born to surrogate mothers equal to those available to parents whose children are born to them.

Mr Healey said though surrogate births were relatively uncommon in Britain, the number was growing as society changed and science advanced Credit: Reuters