What is perinatal mental health?

Perinatal mental health issues can happen in pregnancy and in the first years of being a parent (antenatal and postnatal). Problems can affect new mums as well as dads, people with no history of mental health problems as well as those who have. The word perinatal simply means the time around (peri) childbirth (natal).

Issues might include depression, anxiety, OCD, psychosis and post-traumatic stress amongst other things.

If you are struggling, look for the support you need as soon as you can. Everyone is different, so try to find what’s right for you. Find out more about self care and how to get support.

Signs and symptoms

If you, your partner, relative or friend are experiencing difficulties there are some signs you can look out for. Tommy’s (pregnancy health information for parents) has an excellent guide: https://www.tommys.org

Parents talk about the signs &
symptoms they experienced

How and why we made a film

In 2016 Emma Lazenby, director of ForMed Films CIC, first met consultant obstetrician Rachel Liebling. Through her work at St Michael’s Hospital in Bristol, Rachel had experienced a need for education around perinatal mental health. Emma and Rachel decided to work together on Perinatal Positivity, a project to show families-to-be and health professionals the reality of perinatal mental health issues, but also that recovery is possible.

Since those first conversations Emma has worked with numerous parents, health professionals and charities. ‘Ultimately, our hope is that these stories will help families to be more aware, to keep talking, to look after each other, to know they are normal and to find help as soon as possible.’

Since 2016 ForMed Films has:

  • Surveyed over 180 people about their personal experiences of perinatal mental health issues
  • Run focus groups with 25 people with experience of mental health problems and health professionals working with new families.
  • Interviewed 15 people who spoke in-depth about their experiences. Six of these interviews were used in the final film.
  • Worked closely in collaboration with obstetricians, midwives and health visitors as well as local perinatal mental health charities such as Bluebell Care to ensure that the film is accurate and reflects a range of experiences, support and self-care strategies.

In 2016 we ran workshops with women who had experienced perinatal mental health issues. We collaborated with the Letterpress Collective, to devise and print a Perinatal Positivity manifesto – inspiration for the film.

With thanks

ForMed films would like to especially thank the women and men who agreed to be interviewed, to tell their stories and share their experiences to help others. These eight hours of interviews have formed the six minute film.

Who made the film?

Emma Lazenby

Emma Lazenby
Film Director, ForMed Films CIC

Dr Rachel Liebling
Consultant in fetal medicine & obstetrics

Barbara Jayson

Barbara Jayson
Health Visitor & Clinical Nurse Specialist

Louise Page
Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist

Louise Nunn

Louise Nunn
Perinatal Mental Health Specialist Midwife

Ruth Jackson

Ruth Jackson
Founder & CEO Bluebell Care Trust

Sasha Barber

Sasha Barber
Mental Health & Bereavement Lead

Rachel Tomlinson

Rachel Tomlinson
Producer, ForMed Films


Perinatal Positivity workshop

Making a Letterpress manifesto during the Perinatal Positivity workshop (2016). You can download and print your own copy of the poster.

I did have a birth plan but what I didn’t have a plan for was having a baby in my house. A crying tiny little baby.