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The first antenatal appointment: An exploratory study of the experiences of women with a diagnosis of mental illness

Phillips, L. & Thomas, D. (2015). The first antenatal appointment: An exploratory study of the experiences of women with a diagnosis of mental illness. Midwifery, 31(8), pp. 756-764. doi: 10.1016/j.midw.2015.04.004



to explore and gain insight into the expectations and experiences of women with a pre-existing diagnosis of mental illness, of their first booking appointment; to make recommendations for practice development and collaborative partnership working between healthcare professionals.


a qualitative design using semi structured interviews and thematic analysis of the data. QSR NVivo 10 software is used to organise the data into themes.


the interviews took place either at the women׳s homes, or within the antenatal service with the consent of the woman and relevant practitioners.


twelve participants were selected from one antenatal clinic and one perinatal mental health service.


the themes identified within the data included the lack of information prior to the initial midwife booking appointment; the perception of too much information at the initial booking appointment and women not being clear about their mental health needs at this time; a general positivity about disclosing mental illness diagnoses; overall positive thoughts about midwives although some midwives appeared less knowledgeable about bipolar disorder, and perceptions about a lack of joined up working between antenatal and perinatal mental health services.

Key conclusions and implications for practice

it is recommended that GPs receive adequate training in order to equip them with the skills needed to discuss sensitive issues around perinatal mental illness and the impact on pregnancy and childbirth. Women require more information about their booking appointment, and it would be beneficial for their emotional and physical health needs to be assessed at each follow-up antenatal appointment. Midwives need to be facilitated to receive up-to-date knowledge of antenatal and postnatal mental illness and treatments, and the referral process to perinatal mental health services.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: Midwifery, Booking appointment, Perinatal, Antenatal, Pre-existing mental illness, Disclosure
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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