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World J Obstet Gynecol. May 10, 2015; 4(2): 46-51
Published online May 10, 2015. doi: 10.5317/wjog.v4.i2.46
Mental health of perinatal women
Marjan Khajehei
Marjan Khajehei, Research Department, Karitane, Villawood NSW 2163, Australia
Marjan Khajehei, School of Women’s and Children’s Health, University of New South Wales, Sydney NSW 2052, Australia
Author contributions: Khajehei M solely contributed to this paper.
Conflict-of-interest: There is no conflict of interest.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article which was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
Correspondence to: Marjan Khajehei, MSc, PhD, Research Department, Karitane, PO Box 241, Villawood NSW 2163, Australia. marjan.khajehei@sswahs.nsw.gov.au
Telephone: +61-2-97942344 Fax: +61-2-97942323
Received: December 2, 2014
Peer-review started: December 2, 2014
First decision: December 26, 2014
Revised: January 6, 2015
Accepted: March 16, 2015
Article in press: March 18, 2015
Published online: May 10, 2015
Abstract

Pregnancy and childbirth are major stressors for some women. They can be followed by deterioration in mental health status and cause mental illnesses during perinatal period. Undetected and untreated perinatal mental illnesses can have negative unexpected impacts on parenting skills of the women and children’s development. Mentally ill mothers may not effectively attend their children’s needs in a timely manner and may experience an unfavourable mother-child attachment affecting the child’s language, social, emotional and cognitive development. The rate of pregnancy and postnatal health complications and interventions is higher among mentally ill women with some certain risk factors. The mentally ill mothers along with their partners need comprehensive support and counselling to be able to care for their infants and establish strong parent-child bond and attachment. Mental health campaigns across the world have endeavoured to increase the knowledge and awareness of the public towards perinatal mental health illnesses. To this aim, a routine screening is recommended in order to identify the women who are at risk of mood or anxiety disorder during perinatal period. The development of knowledge on perinatal mental illnesses among public and the health professionals has resulted in timely recognition and treatment of perinatal mental illnesses. Although great volumes of research show high prevalence of perinatal mental illnesses and their impacts on parenting confidence and competence as well as child’s developmental process, there is still lack of research on various aspects of perinatal mental illnesses. To enable early prevention, diagnosis and intervention, it is crucial to identify families who are at an increased risk of perinatal mental illnesses and provide support and intervention to minimise the adverse outcomes. The children’s needs may not be met by providing treatment to parental mental illnesses alone. It is also important to understand the impact of specific parenting behaviours on child outcomes which is modified by the quality of parenting.

Keywords: Perinatal mental illness, Depression, Anxiety, Pregnancy, Childbirth

Core tip: Pregnancy and childbirth are major stressors for some women. Undetected and untreated perinatal mental illnesses can have negative unexpected impacts on parenting skills of the women and children’s development. Mentally ill mothers may experience an unfavourable mother-child attachment. Perinatal mental illness affects the child’s language, social, emotional and cognitive development.