Perinatal services

Perinatal.jpgWelcome to the perinatal mental health service.

This service provides care and support for women experiencing mental health problems during pregnancy and up to one year after giving birth.

We offer specialist perinatal mental health assessments, which focuses on both the needs of mother and infant, and management/treatment for women suffering severe mental illness such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar affective disorder and post-partum psychosis. We can also help women with a history of severe mental illness who are planning a pregnancy, or who have become pregnant and are at high risk of relapse during pregnancy or the postnatal year.

Care is provided across Dorset to women in their own homes wherever possible, enabling them to maintain their roles as mothers while their mental illness is safely treated. When required, we also have a dedicated mother and baby inpatient unit at Florence House, in Bournemouth, which offers 24-hour specialist support.

We have an experienced team of specialists and nursery nurses, occupational therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists and a parent-infant psychotherapist. They offer:

  • psychiatric assessment and medication, if needed
  • advice on the risks and benefits of using psychotropic medication during pregnancy and when breastfeeding
  • pre-conception advice
  • support with the developing the mother and baby relationship
  • psychological therapies including family work, cognitive behavioral therapy and relapse-prevention work.
  • occupational therapies for mother and baby, focusing on mother-infant activities and help with routine and role adjustment which may include shopping, cooking, diet and exercise
  • parenting skills support and training.


If you are struggling with perinatal mental health issues, we will work closely with social care workers, health visitors, maternity departments and other healthcare providers to carry out a full mental health assessment. We will develop a treatment plan in partnership with you, tailored to your own individual needs. Our aim is to provide the right care to help you recover, encouraging family involvement and strengthening your bond with your child.

If you feel that you, or someone you know, might benefit from this kind of support, please talk to your GP, midwife, health visitor or other healthcare professional, who can then make a referral to the perinatal service. Referral form for professionals.

We welcome referrals from healthcare professionals such as GPs, community mental health teams, midwives, health visitors, maternity departments and social workers. However, any referrals for potential admission to the Florence House inpatient unit should be discussed with the team first.

Out of hours referrals requiring an emergency response will be undertaken by the psychiatric liason team.

Maternal wellbeing and mental health survey

Help us make a difference by completing our maternal wellbeing and mental health survey. The National Centre for Mental Health (NCMH)  works to improve diagnosis, treatment and support for people affected by mental illness. The NCMH study aims to capture the effects of COVID-19 pandemic and other life events have had on your experience of pregnancy. More information, contact details and to complete the survey

Once you have joined, you will be asked some questions. This should take about 20-30 minutes to finish and it is completely anonymous. Participation is entirely voluntary. You can stop the survey at any time without giving a reason. 

Please click on the relevant box below for further information, guidance, resources and contacts

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Mental Health and learning disabilities