New maternal mental health service launched to help families ‘thrive’ after birth trauma or perinatal loss

Date added: 31 August 2023

A new maternal mental health service for families who have experienced birth trauma or perinatal loss has been launched by Medway NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT).

Originally launched by KMPT in East Kent in 2021,Thrive is an inclusive, multi professional service, offering assessment and short-term interventions specifically for psychological trauma, as a result of birth trauma and/or perinatal loss. KMPT was an early implementer of this newly commissioned service by NHS England in response to the joint perinatal mental health and maternity transformation objective that by 2023/24, maternal mental health services will be available across the country.

The service is available to support those who have previously received psychological care and treatment from primary care or counselling services but are still experiencing trauma symptoms and require further treatment.

Psychological trauma may be caused by the following:

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following perinatal loss (including early miscarriage, recurrent miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death, termination of pregnancy)
  • PTSD following birth trauma
  • PTSD from parent infant separation at birth (this could be due to a number of reasons including safeguarding concerns or the illness of the parent or baby resulting in prolonged hospitalisation and separation)

Donna Collins who works as a Mental Health Midwife for Medway NHS Foundation Trust, works with KMPT Senior Psychological Therapist Hannah Clayson, and Psychological Therapist Jo Goldspring, who lead the service alongside Peer Support Practitioner Loren Armstrong. As a Specialist Mental Health Midwife Donna provides midwifery clinical expertise and knowledge in relation to birth trauma and perinatal loss, and support for future pregnancies. The KMPT therapists offer treatments such as Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing therapy (EMDR)* and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TF-CBT)**.

Direct referrals to the service can be accepted from any health or social care professional directly involved in the care of the person, for example a midwife, obstetrician, counsellor, therapist or GP.

Donna said: “Raising awareness of perinatal mental health is important so we can change attitudes, and be an advocate for women and families affected by mental health difficulties. We want to help families to access the resources available in their local area.

“As a mental health midwife I am able to compassionately support people who have experienced birth trauma or loss and offer hope that effective specialist treatment is available.

“I would encourage anyone interested in receiving support from Thrive to speak to a health care professional so a referral can be made on their behalf.”

Rose Waters, KMPT Deputy Service Director of Specialist Services, said: ‘’I am delighted that this new service is now available in Medway, following our successful pilot of it which was launched in East Kent in 2021.  

“My team and I are dedicated to providing high quality, compassionate perinatal care, and were really pleased that KMPT was chosen to be an early implementer of this vital new service so we could help more women/birthing people in Kent. We worked really closely with people who had lived experience of the issues we wanted to help with, which resulted in us developing a model of care uniquely tailored to what they told us was important to them.

“We have had a lot of positive feedback since we introduced Thrive and are really pleased to be able to help more women/birth people recover from trauma associated with perinatal loss and/or birth trauma.”

Loren Armstrong, Peer Support Practitioner, said: "Supporting women experiencing or who have experienced perinatal mental health in a compassionate way through my own lived experience is not only beneficial to the service and our service users but to be able to be a peer practitioner within this remit is a valuable resource into helping the women we support progress further within their own experiences".

Jayne Black, Medway NHS Foundation Trust’s Chief Executive, said: “Looking after the mental health of pregnant women, new mothers and those who have experienced birth loss or birth trauma is a top priority for the NHS.

“One in five women will experience a mental health problem during pregnancy or after birth, and 70 per cent of them will not seek advice or support as they do not think it is important or do not want to be a burden.

“We are in no doubt of the benefits that service users and their wider families will experience as a result of the Trust offering the specialist support that Thrive has to offer.”

Further information about Thrive can be found here: KMPT | Thrive - Psychological Support for Birth Trauma and Loss


*EMDR is a comprehensive psychotherapy that helps individuals process and recover from past experiences that are affecting their mental health and wellbeing. It involves using side to side eye movements combined with talking therapy in a specific and structured format. EMDR helps individuals process the negative images, emotions, beliefs and body sensations associated with traumatic memories that seem to be stuck.

**TF-CBT is a form of cognitive behavioural therapy specifically adapted for PTSD.