Published on: 14 April 2022

Lorna Middlemass, Lead Midwife for Maternal Mental Health, and Dr Lyndsey Hall, Principal Clinical Psycologist.New and expectant mams or birthing people, who experience difficulties related to trauma, loss, or fear as a result of pregnancy or giving birth can now get support from a new Maternal Mental Health Service.

The Maternal Mental Health Service (MMHS), delivered by South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, will support women and birth people who are experiencing psychological distress in relation to:

  • A traumatic birth
  • Loss at any stage, including; miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death, termination
  • Extreme fear of childbirth (Tokophobia)
  • Extreme fear of hospital or medical procedures
  • A complicated pregnancy experience (i.e. IVF)

The MMHS team is made up of Clinical Psychologists and a Specialist Midwife. They are specially trained in a range of psychological therapies and approaches.

Dr Lyndsey Hall, Principal Clinical Psychologist at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are incredibly proud to launch this new service, which will provide women and birth people with access to specialist support and care.

“Having a baby is one of life’s big events and is a usually a time when people expect to feel happy and excited. This isn’t always the case however, and people can often experience many different and sometimes difficult feelings around this time. Trauma relating to the maternity experience is very real and can often be overlooked.

“Twenty per cent of new and expectant mams or birthing people will experience a 'perinatal' mental health difficulty. This is a mental health difficulty experienced at any time during pregnancy and after the birth of your baby.

“Mental health issues can have a negative impact for women, their babies and families. That’s why early detection and referral is so important. Treatment and continued support can have a lasting, positive outcome and improve wellbeing.”

The service is available to people living across South Tyneside and Sunderland struggling with their maternity experience and can be accessed by:

  • Calling 0191 569 9698, Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • Referral via midwife, doctor, health visitor or GP
  • Book an appointment online

Fathers/partners and co-parents of women and birth people accessing support can also be assessed and will be signposted to alternative services accordingly.

This new service meets the needs of the NHS Long Term Plan which sets out the ambition to establish Maternal Mental Health Services in all areas of England by 2023/24, integrating maternity, reproductive health, and psychological therapy for women experiencing moderate to severe or complex mental health difficulties directly arising from, or related to, the maternity experience.

For more information about maternity services in South Tyneside and Sunderland click here.