Welcome to Acacia's dedicated section for mums and dads who are people of colour and/or from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. We are here to help you. You don't have to go through this on your own. If you would like to use our service please complete the secure online self referral form below. If you are finding this difficult just give us a ring on 0121 301 5990, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the link here to ask us a question.
On these pages we have tried to pull together some information to help you. Please click on any of the links below to find video's, information and free downloadable stuff specifically designed for people of colour/BAME. Please remember that the use of these resources is not intended to be a substitute for a consultation with a healthcare provider/professional and it must not be automatically assumed that Acacia Family Support endorses any or all of the providers and/or services in this list. We recommend that you contact a healthcare professional if you are concerned about your health. Also, please check out the information at the bottom of the page for help if you or your partner are feeling really unwell at the moment.
If you scroll down to the bottom of the page you will find some video's of mums' stories. These mums have experienced postnatal depression and anxiety and have recovered from it. You can too, you just need to get some help and start putting one foot in front of the other. This is a temporary illness and we're here to help you get better.
Whilst we continue to use the BAME acronym out of convenience it can sometimes give the impression that we are lumping large numbers of people together as a single entity. We would like to assure you that this is not true and we do not allow the humanity, the complexity, the experiences and identities of people to get swallowed up in this four letter acronym. We recognise that different families/communities/cultures are made up of individuals and we therefore resist ascribing pre-conceived ideas and approaches based purely on a person's racial/cultural grouping.
Maternal/paternal mental health problems, or perinatal mental health problems as they're often called, are more common than you think. In fact one in 5 new mums experience them and up to one in 10 new dads and partners. These mental health problems can range from anxiety, low mood and depression to more severe obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and psychosis. Some will have suffered mental health problems before but, for others, symptoms are new and frightening for the whole family.
Depression and anxiety are the most common mental health problems during pregnancy and new parenthood, with around 12% of women and 6% of men experiencing depression and 13% women or 6.5% men experiencing anxiety at some point; many will experience both. People who are experiencing depression/anxiety have a number of changes to their mood, their thinking, their behaviour and their bodily functioning which persist for weeks or months and which can lead to major disruption in their lives.
The other mental health problems like panic disorder, OCD, PTSD, postpartum psychosis, exacerbation of eating disorders and tokophobia (fear of giving birth) are less common but still account for up to 8 percent of all new birthing parents and can also affect their partners. It is important to remember that all of these problems, even the most severe, are usually temporary with the right treatment and support.
The parents who experience perinatal mental health problems cannot control their symptoms on their own. It is not their choice and will require love, patience, understanding and support to get them through this. The symptoms may lead to poor bonding with the baby and difficulties with breastfeeding (which can itself lead to distress, anxiety and low mood).
Good parental mental health is very important for the the development of the baby before and after birth. This makes it really important to recognise the problem quickly, to talk about it, and to get help. Having a baby is a highly stressful time, fuelled by sleep deprivation and the huge increase in responsibility that comes with a baby. Nothing quite prepares you for this and it can often contribute to mental health problems.
The most common symptoms can include persistent feelings of sadness and low mood, poor concentration, feeling unable to cope, loss of interest in sex, tiredness, avoiding contact with people, change in appetite, loss of pleasure in normally enjoyed activities, unable to get out of bed, thoughts of suicide and/or harming self and/or the baby.
Anxiety symptoms can also include feeling persistently afraid, worried, nervous, on edge, detached, panicky. You may also find it hard to learn and apply the skills of parenthood and get into an effective routine, start to feel that the family would be better off without you, have frequent worries about the health and welfare of the baby, have persistent, intrusive and frightening thoughts that you or they might harm baby constantly think things like, "I'm a terrible parent/person" or "They're going to take my baby away."
You may feel very isolated and alone, not knowing who you can talk to about them and whether they're normal. One of the worst fears is often whether you and your partner will ever be able to return to the way you were before, or is this the way it will always be from now on?
You are unlikely to experience all of the symptoms at the same time but if you recognise yourself amongst them please don't ignore it. This Q&A section will help give you some basic advice about what to do and the links on this page offer free services of who can help.
Anybody can get mental health problems when having a baby, at any time of life, irrespective of gender, age, culture or social background. It happens to men as well as women and is really common. It's important to keep in mind that this is not a sign of a 'weak character' or other inadequacy. Many gifted, successful and powerful people have experienced mental health problems in their lives. Additional risk factors include: if a close relative has experienced mental health problems, psychological make up and personality, major life events, physical illnesses, isolation, relationship breakdown, money worries, struggling with gender and/or sexuality.
There are many types of perinatal mental health problems and most of them include some aspect of depression and/or anxiety. Most of them can affect both parents.
Postpartum Psychosis is a rare but serious and potentially life threatening mental health issue. It takes the form of severe depression or mania or both. For the few women who experience postpartum psychosis, it occurs in the first 3 months after birth, usually within the first 2 weeks and develops rapidly.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events such as traumatic labour/birth. Someone with PTSD often relives the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks and may experience feelings of isolation, anger, frustration, disappointment, irritability and guilt.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder which causes people to experience obsessive thoughts followed by compulsive behaviours. Obsessions are overwhelming unwanted thoughts which cause anxiety, disgust or unease and lead to the need to carry out activities usually repetitively in an attempt to temporarily relieve the distressing feelings of the obsessive thoughts.
Tokophobia is a specific phobia of childbirth ie an overwhelming, debilitating fear of childbirth, which can be so intense that pregnancy and/or childbirth is avoided.
Postnatal Depression (PND) and Anxiety PND is a type of mood disorder which is usually accompanied by increased anxiety. It can range from mild to severe and occur any time from pregnancy up to 2 years following birth. Sometimes anxiety can be the dominant symptom.
Pre/postnatal depression/anxiety (PND) is the most common perinatal mental health problem and accounts for almost two-thirds of all recorded cases of perinatal problems. In addition many cases of PND/Anxiety go undiagnosed as parents try to just press on through! PND is a depressive illness which develops in parents before or after childbirth. Anxiety is almost always a component of PND and sometimes the anxiety is the dominant symptom. In some parents it happens fairly suddenly and usually within a few weeks after giving birth. They often describe it as "like a switch has been turned off." In others it develops gradually over a period of weeks and may not be noticed by those around them for quite some time. It can occur at any time in the first year or so and in some parents it can actually start during pregnancy.
Postnatal depression may last for weeks or months and in some it may last into the child's second year if not detected and treated adequately. The symptoms a parent will experience are very much the same as those of depression generally. The important difference with postnatal depression is that there is a new and dependant baby in the mix. Also, postnatal depression develops at a time when parents usually anticipate pleasure and fulfilment in the experience of parenthood and this can add additional pressure to ignore and play the symptoms down and pretend everything is alright.
The good news is that perinatal mental health problems can be treated. Most parents make a full recovery and, as with all health conditions, the sooner they are recognised, and appropriate help is sought, the better.
At the milder end of the scale, measures aimed at giving parents some space to talk about their feelings along with increasing practical and social support are helpful. This can be achieved through enlisting the help of family and friends to relieve some of the practical load or to spend time providing a non-judgemental listening ear and encouragement. It is worth googling your local voluntary organisations and Home-Start as these can play very useful roles in recovery. You can also use click here to use the Hearts and Minds locator Map to search for local groups. Just enter your postcode.
Further on up the scale antidepressants or other medications are often useful and sometimes more specialist psychological help such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). These can usually be arranged through the GP (or local IAPT service) along with more specialist support for those with higher needs.
For the most poorly parents treatment may include referral to the community specialist perinatal team and/or to the Mother and Baby Unit where they can receive more intensive specialist support for themselves and baby. Referrals can be made by your Midwife, Health Visitor or GP.
A usual episode of depression/anxiety will generally resolve within a matter of weeks or months. Recovery rarely follows a smooth path and typically involves ups and downs. The best advice is to take it one day at a time.
More severe mental health problems may vary in duration but the sooner help is sought, and begins, the sooner things will start to improve.
The first step is to recognise and acknowledge that you are ill right now and that you need help. This is sometimes really difficult but remember you are not being selfish in doing this. It will be impossible for you to look after your baby and your family if you are struggling yourself. This season will pass and it's great you've taken the first step to get a bit more information on how you can help yourself. Just remember to take it easy on yourself and not to set the bar too high during this difficult time.
Use the links on this website and watch some of the video's of other mums at the bottom of the page who have been through similar experiences. There are also some father's stories at the bottom of the Acacia Dads page. You can access the dads stories by clicking here and scrolling down to the bottom of the page.
The GP, Midwife and Health Visitor are key people to speak to. Be totally honest about how you are feeling. You won't be saying anything that they haven't heard before and the sooner you can get some help the sooner you can start the journey back to wellness.
Try to do some regular exercise and relaxation activities - as much as time will allow right now. After all a baby gives you a good reason for a walk around your local park, which will also give you some much needed time to yourself.
It might sound simple but it's so important to maintain a healthy(ish) diet and eat regularly - don't skip breakfast! Your brain and your body needs energy if you want it to function well and cope with increased stress.
Find someone to confide in about it. A close friend or family member perhaps. If you live in Birmingham, Acacia provides such a service. If you live elsewhere please click here to visit the Hearts and Minds Map to see what's available locally to you.
Most importantly don't try to sweep it under the carpet.
Don't put it off any longer to get the ball rolling. You owe it to yourself, your family, and your new baby to ensure that you're well and at your best right now. If you feel like you are struggling check out what's available.
Local Support From Acacia If You're Living In Birmingham
If you would like to view the form in your own language please use the links in the section above to choose the language you'd like before you click on this link. Unfortunately, we apologise that whilst you can view the form in your chosen language you must still complete the English version stating your answers in English. So you may need to get a friend or a family member to help you with that. If you can't do that, please ring our admin team on 0121 301 5990 and they will arrange an interpreter to help you access our service.
Local Support Outside Birmingham
If you live in the UK outside of Birmingham please click here to go to the Hearts and Minds map of local support groups around the country. All you need to do is put in your postcode and the map will show you what's available locally to you. Unfortunately the page is only currently available in English.
Visit their facebook page for video's and other information
Click here to vist the Facebook page
You can also follow the Raham Project on:
The Refugee Council
Resources to Improve Access to Primary Care for Refugees and Asylum Seekers
In partnership with City University London, the Refugee Council have developed some practical resources to support refugees and asylum seekers to access primary healthcare.
Click here to download the resources in various languages
EHSAAS Perinatal Support for Pakistani Women in Birmingham
We are culturally sensitive, speak the community language and understand barriers faced by Pakistani women. We provide tailored support through one-to-one help, sign-posting and peer support through our trained volunteers.
We aim to raise awareness and increase engagement of Pakistani women into perinatal services and mental health services. We aim to build a bridge between services.
For more inforamation and contact details please click on the links below in Urdu or English
Coronavirus and your pregnancy - free guides from Birmingham Women's Hospital
We understand that you will be worried about the physical impact of coronavirus on your pregnancy and your baby. These leaflets aim to provide you with information about coronavirus, your pregnancy care and changes Birmingham Women's Hospital have made to maternity services during the coronavirus outbreak to keep you and your baby safe.
Please click on the links below to download the free information in your language.
bwc.nhs.uk/download – Arabic
bwc.nhs.uk/download – Bengali
bwc.nhs.uk/download – Urdu
bwc.nhs.uk/download – Somalian
Easy to understand guides on being pregnant and becoming a mum during Covid
Produced through a joint initiative between: Cheshire and Wirral Partnership, Mersey Care and North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trusts. Produced June 2020.
Being pregnant - preparing to give birth
Having a new baby is big life changing event. This booklet aims to help you identify simple steps to care for your wellbeing and prepare to give birth. Lots of mums have continued to have babies safely and happily during the pandemic.
Being With Your Baby… Becoming a Mum
You are now or about to become a mum to a new baby, maybe for the first time or again. These are very unusual times. This booklet aims to share good ideas and words of encouragement as you enter into this next stage to discover yourself as a mum, get to know and bond with your baby.
Information, education & opportunity for people of colour during Covid
Spark and Co. is a Community Interest Company that supports people of colour in the UK by providing information, education & opportunity. Their goal is to tackle inequalities exacerbated by Covid-19 by equipping people with knowledge, information & resources which are appropriate for their individual needs accross a very broad range of subjects.
Click here to access Spark's resource page.
Acacia produces two leaflets specifically aimed at south Asian families. They can be downloaded below. We also produce hard copies. If you would like to obtain any of our leaflets or booklets please get in touch. Please note that for larger quantities we may need to make a charge.
Acacia general resources
Click on this link below to go to Acacia's general help and support resources page (all resources are in English)
Basic information about postnatal depression in different languages
Please click on the links below to access two basic information sheets for families in many languages which are available from Medline Plus.
Emotional changes after birth
Postpartum depression (PND)
Both of these fact sheets provide a very brief look at some of the feelings a mum can face after giving birth. The sheets both point out that if the feelings are severe or last longer than a couple of weeks there may be a more serious problem.
Medication Fact Sheets
Below you will find viewable and downloadable handy factsheets on the two most commonly used medicines for PND/Anxiety. Please click on the link to open the factsheet. These are written in English
For information on other medications (written in English) which may be used during pregnancy or in the postnatal period please click here to visit NHS24 and search for the factsheet you are looking for.
Alternatively, if you are currently pregnant you can also click here to visit Bumps and search for information on the use of most medications (written in English).
A range of medication information leaflets in many different languages are available by clicking here and then searching for the correct leaflet in your language.
W Mids Marriage and Honour Based Abuse 24 Hour Multi Lingual Helpline
You are not alone
If you are worried about yourself, or are concerned about someone you know being at risk of forced marriage or honour based abuse, the multi lingual helpline is here to support you. Offering confidential, empathic, non-judgemental emotional and practical support over the phone. You can call 24 hours, day or night. If you would like to discuss your options, access immediate emergency refuge, or simply ask questions or tell us how you are feeling please ring 0800 953 9777 now.
Click on the link below for more information:
Bharosa culturally appropriate domestic abuse support
referral form and emailing it to us.Contact usWe are available from 9am to 5pm Monday to Thursday and 9am to 4 pm on Fridays.
Am I in an abusive relationship?
Please click on the link below to visit the Women's Aid site where you can try the quick self assessment and also get information, advice and support.
Click here to visit Women's Aid
Parenting Courses for Muslim Families
Bethel Doula Service for vulnerable and isolated pregnant women
The Bethel Doula service provides support to vulnerable and isolated pregnant women in Birmingham during their pregnancies, their childbirth and after their babies have been born. Our staff and team of experienced Senior Doulas and Volunteer Doulas help service users by:
or ring 0121 306 0111
When Your Baby Won't Stop Crying
Babies cry for many reasons. They are hardwired to cry whenever they need a parent to help them out because their brains have yet to develop the circuits that allow for self-control or understanding. Remember, crying is meant to be upsetting for a parent, that is Nature’s way of making sure they pay attention fairly promptly.
A cry might signal many things, discomfort and startle are common examples. Sometimes, though babies cry for no reason at all and sometimes they cry and just cannot be settled. This may be upsetting for both baby and parent, but it causes no harm and it will eventually cease. After about 5 months the experts say that crying becomes more ‘purposeful’. That means after 5 months of age, your baby is more likely to to be crying for a reason.
It is a good idea to have a think about how you can help yourself cope at this time before it happens. This will really help you to cope.
Think about the following things and you may want to write them down:
• Who can I go to for help with crying?
• What will I do if I need a few minutes to myself?
• What makes me feel better?
• What makes me feel calmer?
The normal crying pattern shows us how babies start to cry more frequently at about 2 weeks of age. The crying may get more frequent and last longer during the next few weeks, hitting a peak at about 6 – 8 weeks, sometimes a little later. Every baby is different but after about 2 – 3 months, be encouraged, babies start to cry less and less each week.
Unfortunately, infant crying is normal so you can expect it to be a little rocky right now. It will get better, so hang on!
Perinatal Positivity in English
Perinatal Positivity in Urdu
Perinatal Positivity in Arabic
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression (or postnatal depression) in Hindi/Urdu
The term postpartum depression is used in America and some other countries. In the UK we call it postatal depression.
Hope and the Black Balloon
Please remember that Acacia is not a crisis service and if you are feeling really unwell with your mental health and are concerned you must contact your GP or mental health professional as soon as possible. If you feel like you are suffering a mental health crisis:
For Forward Thinking Birmingham (24 yrs and younger) 0300 300 0099.
If you live in Birmingham and need help?
If you need help or support or have any questions please call.
0121 301 5990
or click here to email us