Up to 40 per cent of new mothers are struggling to handle the demands of looking after their newborn baby, a poll by the NSPCC has found.
Three quarters of mums would have liked more professional advice before their baby was born. Image: Morguefile
The charity, which commissioned a YouGov survey of more than 500 women with babies aged under one, found that 57 per cent of respondents felt isolated with “no-one to turn to” and 39 per cent admitted to “getting angry” with their baby.
A fifth of mothers said they were frequently “very upset” by their baby’s crying and almost three quarters said they would have liked more professional advice before their baby was born.
Key areas that mothers said they needed more information on included how to deal with anxiety, fear, depression and sleep deprivation, and how to cope with their baby’s crying and sleeplessness.
The survey also found that whilst 65 per cent of new mothers from middle class backgrounds had attended antenatal education classes, less than 39 per cent of disadvantaged mothers had done so.
Chris Cuthbert, head of strategy and development for children under one at the NSPCC, argued that the emotional health and wellbeing of new mothers and their babies is an urgent public health issue.
“The interaction between mother and baby is very powerful and vitally important for a child’s development,” he said.
“Our survey clearly shows the emotional turmoil some mums are facing and their need for more support to look after themselves and handle the huge challenges of caring for a newborn.”
As part of its All babies count campaign, the NSPCC is calling on government to fund more extensive support services for babies and their families, particularly the most vulnerable.
“Currently much of the focus of antenatal education is on physical health, such as the choice of pain relief during labour,” Cuthbert said.
“However, we want both mothers and fathers to have access to high quality antenatal education on the practicalities of caring for a baby that prepares parents for the emotional challenges they will face.
"This will help them cope with the impact it will have on their life, their relationships and their own wellbeing and assist them in being the best parents they can be.”
He added: “We appreciate times are tough financially but failing to provide vital support to new mums is a false economy. Babies are the most vulnerable members of our society.
“Damage done at this stage of their lives can prevent them reaching their full potential, which also has a knock-on effect on society as a whole. Babies who are not well cared for are more likely to struggle at school and to have behavioural and relationship problems in later life.”
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