Perinatal mental health

Perinatal and infant mental health is used to describe the psychological wellbeing of mothers and its impact on their quality of bonding with their baby. We encourage partners and families to help mothers and infants through this difficult time.

Caregiver with patient and her baby 

Women are more likely to experience anxiety and depression during the perinatal period (pregnancy through to when the child is three years old) than any other time in their lives. 

Intervention during this critical period is essential to improve the health of mothers and their ability to nurture their child, and for infants to develop a secure attachment with their mother.

We offer numerous support options to help mothers recover from perinatal mental health disorders and strengthen their bond with their child, partner and family.

Our perinatal and infant mental health services

Our holistic approach to care addresses your physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs, which are all important aspects of your recovery.

All our programs are delivered by experienced and caring perinatal specialists who take the time to understand your situation and tailor your treatment or therapy to your needs.

We offer treatment for the whole spectrum of perinatal mental health issues, including:

  • postnatal depression and/or anxiety – prolonged episodes (lasting two weeks or more) of sadness, irritability or anxiety, after the birth of a baby. It is often associated with loss of interest or enjoyment in social activities or sense of confidence in the parenting role. These episodes respond well to psychological counselling and more severe episodes may need treatment with antidepressants.
  • postnatal psychosis – very uncommon but a serious mental health episode following the birth of a baby and often associated with a major impact on day-to-day function. This condition responds well to medication and women generally make a full recovery.

We have both inpatient and outpatient programs which provide practical and psychological support and guidance for mothers and their families. Most programs require referral from a general practitioner.

Inpatient services

We offer the only specialist inpatient program for mothers and their babies up to 12 months of age at our Mother and Baby Unit at St John of God Burwood Hospital, Sydney, in New South Wales.

Our focus is on helping you recover from perinatal infant mental health issues and to help you develop a secure bond (or attachment) between you and your baby.

Your program will include a combination of group therapies or programs, and skills and support with feeding, sleep and settling issues that may arise in terms of baby care.

Partners are also very much encouraged to visit, stay overnight and participate in therapy and skills development with you.

Our facilities replicate a home-like environment and are warm and nurturing with many areas for you and your baby to relax and bond, or socialise with other mothers in the program.

Outpatient services

Counselling and Therapy Centre

We offer an outpatient program for mothers experiencing perinatal and infant mental health issues which focus on talking therapies, either in a group or individually with a psychiatrist.

We also offer the Circle of Security Program which aims to enhance the attachment security between you and your child so they always feel safe and supported.

Medicare-funded clinic

A Medicare-funded clinic is located at 3 Grantham Street, Burwood, NSW 2134, and offers a full range of treatment and support for mothers experiencing perinatal infant mental health services. Appointments are with a senior perinatal psychiatry trainee and a referral is needed.

Benefits of our perinatal and infant mental health services

  • Helps you bond with your baby and develop secure attachment
  • Equips you with practical skills you can use in caring for your baby
  • Develops peer networks with other mothers for support and encouragement
  • Strengthen your relationships with your partner

These benefits depend on your particular circumstances and require you to fully participate in necessary care and management. You should consult a specialist in this area before deciding whether treatment is suitable for you.

Interested in our treatment programs? 

Please complete the form and we will contact you during regular office hours (9.00am to 5.00pm Sydney time). If you require urgent help please call Lifeline: 13 11 14

If you do not receive a response to your enquiry within 24 hours please contact the hospital directly on tel: (02) 9715 9200 or email: info.burwood@sjog.org.au

Further help

Bupa Mummatters - self assessment website

The Bupa Mummatters - self assessment website can be used to help pregnant women and new mums identify feelings associated with depression and anxiety. It also provides steps you can take to improve your emotional wellbeing as well as support guides and further resources. It was designed with input by our researchers and can be accessed for free online.

Raphael Services

We also offer free or low cost specialist services for parents and families who experience perinatal and infant mental health issues through our Social Outreach program, Raphael Services.