Having a baby can be joyful, exciting and rewarding. However, it is also common for pregnant women and
new parents to experience anxiety, depression or emotional distress.
As many as one in five women and up to one in 10 partners experience emotional difficulties during
pregnancy and in the first year after their baby’s birth. This can happen to anyone.
Your local NHS IAPT service offers free, confidential talking therapy for people who have symptoms of
anxiety or depression. IAPT stands for ‘Improving Access to Psychological Therapy’. They give priority to
pregnant women and new parents.
This page explains more about the service and the help we can offer you if you need it.
It is common for pregnant women and new parents to experience:
- Low mood, sadness and tearfulness
- Anxiety, worry and tension
- Irritability and anger
- Difficult or unexpected feelings towards your pregnancy or baby
- Poor sleep even when your baby sleeps well
- Feeling unable to cope or enjoy anything
- Thoughts that you are not a good enough parent
- Worrying thoughts about your baby
- Anxiety about labour or struggling to come to terms with a difficult labour.
Asking for help
It can be difficult to talk about how you are feeling and ask for help. Common reasons for this are:
- You may not know what is wrong
- You may feel ashamed that you are not enjoying your baby or coping as you believe you should
- You may worry that your baby will be taken away.
Struggling emotionally at this time can happen to anyone. It is not your fault.
Asking for help doesn’t mean you can’t cope or are not able to care for your child. It’s the start of getting the
right help and support to ensure you can be the parent you want to be. We know that lots of parents don’t feel
able to talk about how they are honestly feeling because they feel guilty or are worried that others will think
they are a ‘bad’ parent. What really matters is that you get the help that you need.
How an IAPT service can help you
IAPT offers short-term talking therapy to give you space to talk. The types of therapy offered will vary
depending on your local IAPT service. These may include guided self-help sessions with a therapist, cognitive
behaviour therapy and counselling.
How to contact IAPT
You can refer yourself to IAPT by phoning your local service directly. Contact details for services in
Lancashire and South Cumbria can be found at the end of this leaflet. You may find it hard to make that first
contact yourself. In this case, ask your midwife, health visitor, friends or a family member to help you make
that first call. Your GP can also make the referral. We know that pregnancy and the first year of your baby’s
birth is a very important time. Your local IAPT service will offer you an assessment and treatment as soon as
What to expect when you contact IAPT
When you first telephone you will be asked for some brief details. A time will be arranged for you to speak to
one of the therapists. This appointment will be booked as soon as possible, usually within a few days. The
first appointment is to find out about your current difficulties. This helps us decide how we can best help you.
At the end of the appointment, we will discuss the support options available and work with you to agree a
All IAPT services aim to be flexible. We want to make it as easy as possible for you to get the help you need. Services can be offered over the phone or video call and you can often bring your baby to face to face
sessions if you want to.
Find your local IAPT service
This information was produced by the North West Coast Perinatal Mental Health Network, with thanks to London Clinical Networks.