Around the birth

Understanding and preparing for birth is an important part of your pregnancy journey. This page includes advice around preparing for birth, as well feelings you might experience about, before and after your baby is born.

It’s normal to experience different emotions and feelings and it can help to talk about how you’re feeling. You are not alone.

Getting advice

  • You are not currently concerned about your emotional wellbeing OR you are experiencing some mild symptoms but do not feel these are currently impacting on day-to-day life
  • You would like to learn more about your emotional wellbeing and support available around your birth experience
  • You would like some clarity, understanding and hopefully resolve any unanswered questions about your own birth experience

You can find out lots of general information about preparing for your birth on the Healthier Together website.

Understanding pregnancy, labour and birth (A Solihull Approach Antenatal Group)

Delivered by Home-Start Portsmouth and Health Professionals from Solent NHS Trust and Portsmouth Hospital Trust.

This session is for anyone 20+ weeks pregnant. It is a ‘Solihull Approach’ antenatal group that will help you to understand your pregnancy, labour and giving birth including emotional changes.

Find out more at Portsmouth Family Hubs and book your place by emailing the Family Hub Champions.

Emotional Safety (Birth) Plan

Developed by For Babys Sake, an emotional safety (birth) plan can support anyone preparing for a baby and can be used by expectant mothers, fathers, co parents or non-birthing partners, either individually or together, meaning support can focus on the whole family. You can record in the plan what they may need to feel listened to, including preferences about how they are spoken to, or how options and choices are explained, so they can process, recognise and manage their feelings, to feel safe before, during and after the birth.

The emotional safety plan differs to a traditional birth plan by focusing on how to keep yourself emotionally safe, including how the birth journey can evoke difficult feelings and how professionals can be more supportive in their word and actions to ensure you feel heard and understood. The tool also prompts parents to consider how the physical environment may affect their emotional wellbeing, e.g. lighting, noise levels, any items that it would be helpful – or unhelpful – to have nearby, or requests not to return to rooms where they experienced previous birth trauma.

Find out more on the For Babys Sake website.

Birth Reflections Service

Your birth experience is a unique and personal journey but for some women a reflective discussion of events surrounding labour and birth can help bring some clarity, understanding and hopefully resolve any unanswered questions.

Birth reflections provide a service for women who have given birth at Portsmouth Hospital University Trust.  This service offers a one-off, one to one appointment to listen to any concerns you may have, to explore any issues and provide the opportunity to reflect on your birth experience.  Appointments are held in a quiet setting with a registered midwife, and you are welcome to bring your partner or friend with you to the appointment.

You cannot currently self-refer to the service, however your midwife or health visitor can support you with a referral.

Getting help

  • You are pregnant and experiencing a mild – moderate anxiety around the birth
  • You are a new parent experiencing mild – moderate anxiety and distress following a traumatic birth or maternity experience

NHS Talking Therapies

Run by Solent NHS Trust, NHS Talking Therapies Portsmouth provides free support to anyone struggling with difficulties such as low mood or anxiety. They can provide a range of talking therapies to help you cope and feel better. Support can be offered both via groups and one-to-one, and includes a virtual postnatal support group.

You can self-refer by visiting NHS Talking Therapies Portsmouth.

Or book a face-to-face assessment, available every Wednesday, 9am – 1pm, at Buckland Family Hub. To book, email Buckland Family Hub or call 023 9288 2588.

Getting more help

  • You are pregnant and experiencing a severe fear around your birth
  • You are pregnant and experiencing high levels of anxiety which may be linked to previous difficult experiences such as previous loss
  • You are a new parent experiencing high levels of anxiety and distress, flashbacks and nightmares following a traumatic birth or maternity experience

Maternity Mental Health Service

The maternity mental health service is a small specialist service providing access to psychological therapies the delivery of trauma informed care within maternity services and other settings.

They aim to support birthing parents who are experiencing a range of distress that may be related to your maternity, neonatal or reproductive journey. They work to support trauma, loss and fear around pregnancy.

You are currently not able to self- refer to the service, but your GP, midwife, health visitor can support you to access the service.

Urgent help

  • You are experiencing intense emotional distress that is difficult to bear
  • You are experiencing thoughts and / or plans of violent self-harm and suicide
  • You feel unable to keep yourself safe
  • You are feeling hopeless for the future
  • You or your family/friends have noticed changes to your behaviour and thoughts such as hallucinations, delusions or paranoia

If you need emergency medical help immediately, call 999.

If you need urgent help for something that’s not life-threatening, you can call 111. They have specialist nurses who can support both adults and young people with the mental health and connect you with local CRISIS services. NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days per week and is from any phone. You can also visit NHS 111 online.

If you are currently under the Community Mental Health or Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Teams, you can call the CRISIS team direct on the number provided.

If you are worried about caring for your baby or child, you can call the Multiagency Safeguarding Hub on 023 9268 8793, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm or 0300 555 1372 out of hours.

If you need urgent help, are feeling unable to keep yourself or others safe, please call 999 immediately.