According to a recent University of Queensland study, one in five Australian mothers are not receiving critical perinatal mental health checks. This is despite the fact that up to 20 per cent of women experience depression or anxiety during pregnancy or in the first year following their child’s birth.
The issue is particularly valid during the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic when many mothers or those planning a baby have been socially isolated from their family, friends and support groups. Many women are still feeling alone during these difficult times, and their mental health during COVID-19 may be affected. Because of the restrictions, many people have also developed more advanced diseases than they normally would have by presenting much later to their health professionals.
Obstetric and gynaecological services
With the new safe workplace practices in place, experts are now encouraging women to re-access health services if they are feeling unwell. These include visiting our clinic or arranging telehealth services via phone or video conferencing with Dr Terry Sheahan. A temporary measure until the 30th September, these services enable us to continue to provide valuable pregnancy support and counselling regarding fertility and pre-pregnancy, pregnancy and after-delivery matters.
Mental health services
Pregnancy, birth and early parenthood are times of enormous change and most women experience a range of emotions. Depression and anxiety can occur at any time in our lives but can be highlighted before and during a pregnancy. Around 12 per cent of pregnant women in Australia also experience antenatal depression and the risk is higher if you have been depressed in the past.
Dr Terry Sheahan takes his patients’ mental health during COVID19 very seriously, and we are extremely proactive with screening for any issues via formal assessment questionnaires including the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Score. We also continually assess our patients’ mental health throughout their pregnancies, and develop trust and a good rapport with our patients and their extended families.
It’s also important that women planning a pregnancy don’t put off investigations for any potential problems. If pregnancy has not occurred after you have been trying for six months if you are over 35, or for 12 months if you are under 35, it is important to make contact with us so that we can optimise your chances. Putting off these investigations may make some fertility matters more advanced than they otherwise would be due to delays in diagnosis and treatment.
We are here to support you
Remember, your mental health is just as important as your physical wellbeing. Dr Terry Sheahan is here to support you before, during and after your pregnancy. With our support networks and by regularly attending pre-pregnancy assessments, antenatal visits and birthing classes, you can look forward to a fulfilling and enjoyable pregnancy.
For more information about maternity care for mothers and babies during the COVID19 pandemic, make an appointment to discuss with Dr Terry Sheahan today, by calling our office on (07) 33533100
You can find additional information on our website at drterrysheahan.com.au. For further information about assistance with anxiety or depression contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.