learn > news

Latest News

Ireland failing new mothers with severe and complex mental health needs: NWC

Published: Tuesday, July 09, 2024

Ireland failing new mothers with severe and complex mental health needs: NWC

Women who need in-patient care following childbirth are separated from their babies, according to a new National Women’s Council report


One in five women will experience mental health difficulties in the perinatal (pre- and post- childbirth) period. Women who have severe or complex needs may require in-patient support but are currently being admitted to general mental health units without their babies. The National Women’s Council today publishes a report on perinatal mental health and is calling for the urgent establishment of a specialist Mother and Baby Unit designed to keep mothers and their babies together, delivering mental health care to women, and nurturing and supporting the mother-infant relationship.

Doireann Crosson, Women’s Health Coordinator at NWC, said:

“Allowing mother and baby to remain together is crucial for attachment and bonding. This is why NWC has repeatedly called for the urgent establishment of a Mother and Baby Unit. Women cannot wait any longer. We are also calling for the strengthening and resourcing of all specialist perinatal mental health services, as well as supports at primary care level and in the community, recognising the increasing demand and pressure on existing services.”

Mental health difficulties frequently present at 3, 6, and even 12 months post-partum.  But maternity care services in Ireland typically end at 6 weeks, under the assumption physical concerns will have resolved. NWC is calling for care to be extended beyond this time frame and for emphasis to be placed on the mother’s mental health.

Michelle Daly Hayes suffered from PTSD after the birth of her first son Luke. She says:

“I was lucky after the birth of my second son Cole to have the support of a perinatal mental health nurse, and a Community Mother [home visiting service] here at home in Limerick. It was another quite traumatic birth, but with the supports I didn’t have the same levels of anxiety at all. It’s not easy to answer a doctor’s quick question about mental health during a half hour consultation – and not everyone gets asked – but the perinatal team were there just to talk about my mental health. Those supports need to be available to every woman who needs them.”

Today’s report is based on a roundtable discussion which took place in late 2023 and brought together representatives from mental health services, advocacy groups, academics, Traveller women, migrant women, and women with lived experience of mental health difficulties. A key finding was that migrant and Traveller women do not feel represented by the data which underpins perinatal mental health policies and services.  

Salome Mbugua, CEO of Akidwa, said:

“Migrant women have different experiences in maternity services, but the absence of specific data and research means our experiences are made invisible. We know from small-scale research and from the UK that maternity outcomes for migrant women are worse than for the general population. We need better data on the experiences of migrant women to improve perinatal mental health services for all women, underpinned by practices of cultural humility, gender sensitivity and trauma informed care.”


The report launch and panel discussion will take place at the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission from 10am today.



For comment: Doireann Crosson, Michelle Daly Hayes and Salome Mbugua

Find here the roundtable report: https://www.nwci.ie/images/uploads/NWC_Perinatal__Mental_Health_2024.pdf

For more information, please contact Sinéad Nolan, NWC Communications and Social Media Coordinator, 085 8619087 or sineadn@nwci.ie


What: Report launch: Perinatal Mental Health – Listening to Women and Shaping the Road Ahead

When: 9 July, 10:30 to 1pm (refreshments from 10am)

Where: IHREC, 16-22 Green St, Dublin 7

Speakers will include:

Dr Colm Cooney, HSE Lead for Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Programme
Michelle Daly Hayes, Lived Experience Champion
Jeanne Masterson, Clinical Midwife Specialist, Perinatal Mental Health, Rotunda
Dr Salome Mbugua, CEO, AkiDwA
Louise O'Leary, Advocacy Manager, St Patrick's Mental Health Services


About NWC

The National Women’s Council is the leading national representative organisation for women and women’s groups in Ireland, founded in 1973. We have over 190 member groups and a large and growing community of individual supporters.

The ambition of the National Women’s Council is an Ireland where every woman enjoys true equality and no woman is left behind. This ambition shapes and informs our work, and, with our living values, how we work.

We are a movement-building organisation rooted in our membership, working on the whole island of Ireland. We are also part of the international movement to protect and advance women’s and girls’ rights. Our purpose is to lead action for the achievement of women’s and girls’ equality through mobilising, influencing, and building solidarity. Find out more on www.nwci.ie

Page 1 of 2591 pages  1 2 3 >  Last ›