New service launched for people facing maternity struggles

A new service from the NHS in Lancashire and South Cumbria will offer support and therapy for people who have had a traumatic experience connected to pregnancy.

The Reproductive Trauma Service has been set up to offer a variety of support and therapies to those who have experienced birth trauma, fear of childbirth (tokophobia), or perinatal loss including early miscarriage, recurrent miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death, termination of pregnancy for any reason, or parent-infant separation at birth.

The new service, launching on Monday 28 March and operated by Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, is available to people across Lancashire and South Cumbria and is one of the first in the country to meet the promises of the NHS Long Term Plan.

Perinatal mental health difficulties affect up to one in five women and one in ten men in the UK, both during pregnancy and within the first year after having a baby.

Many women experience mental health issues due to birth trauma or perinatal loss or have a severe fear of childbirth, known as tokophobia. Early detection, referral, and support can have lasting, positive outcomes and improved wellbeing. 

Lisa McCormick, Clinical Lead for the service said: “We’ve worked really hard to develop a service that meets the needs of the people it will help. It has been co-produced by those with lived experience of reproductive trauma and/or loss to gain a better understanding of their needs.

“The team is made up of trained therapists who will provide a range of psychological interventions and support. These may include psychological therapies, relaxation techniques, anxiety management, or information in both group and one-on-one settings.

“We also understand talking to people who have experienced something similar is often really helpful, so we’ll be using peer support coordinators to match up women/fathers/partners and co-parents with an appropriate peer support volunteer to provide additional support.”

The NHS Long Term Plan 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.

In 2020/21 funding from NHS England/NHS Improvement was granted to the Lancashire and South Cumbria health and care partnership to develop and test the services in the area. Any fathers/partners and co-parents of women accessing support will be offered an assessment and signposted accordingly.

Once launched, the service is available to all residents across Lancashire and South Cumbria struggling with their maternity experience. Support can be accessed by speaking with a health visitor, midwife, or GP.

For more information, visit Lancashire and South Cumbria Health and Care Partnership :: Reproductive Trauma Service (healthierlsc.co.uk)