For many women pregnancy and having a baby is a time of excitement and joy, with some  nervousness and worries too. But this is not the case for all women and around 1 in 20 women suffer from symptoms of anxiety or depression during pregnancy or the first year after their baby is born. In particular, anxiety is a common but unrecognised difficulty which can have a severe impact on women and those close to them.

The MAP Research Programme

The MAP research programme looks at how to provide better care for women’s mental health in pregnancy, in particular anxiety, and how to identify women who need help. MAP is being conducted by researchers at City, University of London, and the University of Stirling in collaboration with the NCT and Maternal Mental Health Change Agents to identify the best way to pick up women who need help for their psychological wellbeing during pregnancy or after birth.

The MAP research programme involves four parts:

  • MAP Beginnings looked at women’s experiences of different questionnaires and of being asked (or not) about their psychological wellbeing and anxiety during pregnancy and after birth. We included women with and without mental health difficulties to make sure results reflect all women who will be asked about their wellbeing during their antenatal and postnatal appointments. This project was completed in February 2020.
  • Pregnancy MAP is a large study of over 2,000 women who were pregnant in 2020 or 2021 which follows their experiences from early pregnancy to after birth. This project will provide valuable information on women’s wellbeing, anxiety, birth outcomes and the baby, as well as finding out which questions are best to identify women with anxiety or other problems who need further treatment. It involves women completing questionnaires throughout pregnancy (12, 22 and 31 weeks) and after birth (6 weeks postnatal). Some women will be invited to take part in interviews to get a better understanding of their wellbeing. Pregnancy MAP also looks at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women in pregnancy and after birth so is a unique opportunity to gain information on wellbeing before, during, and after the pandemic.
  • MAP Alliance will follow-up women and their babies who were part of Pregnancy MAP over time to understand the factors that are important in maternity care, mental health care and the long-term health of mums and their babies over time.
  • Maternity MAP will pilot assessment of anxiety and mental health in healthcare services in England and Scotland to see if it works and find out what barriers there are to using such assessments in services. This includes interviewing healthcare professionals and other stakeholders about their experiences of asking women about their mental health and anxiety during pregnancy and after birth and how acceptable and practical it is to do.


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