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HealthInfo Canterbury

Living with mental illness during & after pregnancy

If you've been diagnosed with a mental illness during pregnancy or after your baby is born, there are many things you can do and people who can help you. Try some of the suggestions below.

What can I do?

As with any illness, the sooner you get help, the sooner you'll get better.

See your general practice team and talk to your GP or practice nurse about how you're feeling. They can talk to you about treatment options. Also talk to your midwife or LMC at your regular appointments during pregnancy and in the four to six weeks after your baby is born.

Learn more about mental illness during and after pregnancy

Learn about what causes the illness, how it affects people and the different treatments that are available. This can help you feel more able to cope and less alone with the problem. These two resources are helpful:

Online self-help

These are free resources that can help you to understand mental illness better. They also provide strategies that can help. Try some of the online self-help options on the treatments page

Stay healthy

It will help if you eat healthy foods, avoid coffee and alcohol, and quit smoking. Keeping physically active can help too, and it doesn't have to be high-intensity. Talk to your GP or practice nurse about getting a Green Prescription.

Who can help?

These people and organisations can help you if you are having mental health issues.

General practice team

If you need to find a GP, you can search on this map.

Midwife or lead maternity carer

If you need to find a midwife, you can view profiles and availability on Find Your Midwife.

Community support groups

In Canterbury, you can find a support group by contacting one of the following organisations:

Also see Community support for mental illness during & after pregnancy.

Phone or email services

All these phone or email services are free.

Counsellor or therapist

You can find a counsellor, therapist or psychiatrist in the Family Services Directory.

Mental Health Education and Resource Centre (MHERC)

The Canterbury Mental Health Education and Resource Centre Trust (MHERC) provides information, education, and support to people with mental health and addiction issues, their families and whānau, and caregivers.

Canterbury DHB Specialist Mental Health Services (Mother and Baby Unit)

Canterbury DHB's Specialist Mental Health Service is the major provider of mental health services in Canterbury. You'll need a referral from your GP to access the Mother and Baby Unit. It's for mothers who have serious mental illness during pregnancy or in the year after their baby is born.

The unit may also see pregnant woman who are at risk of becoming seriously unwell, and mentally unwell fathers if they are the primary caregiver of a baby.

On the next page: Treatments for mental illness during & after pregnancy

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by Consultant Psychiatrist, Mothers and Babies Service, Canterbury DHB. Last reviewed March 2018. Last updated June 2019.


See also:


Bipolar disorder



Reading in Mind book scheme

Page reference: 416278

Review key: HIMIP-416276