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Research warns of new mother anxiety

Anxiety among first-time mothers hits a peak coinciding with uncertainty about the changing needs of their baby, research has found.

On average, this tends to come five months and one week after they give birth.

Another anxiety factor is that visits from wellwishers and family subside around this point, the Department of Health study found.

The poll found 81% of mothers feel the baby's needs evolve quickly between five and eight months old, leaving them concerned as to whether they are doing a good job. In addition, 60% said that visits from friends and family slowed down during the period.

Partners were also unable to get home and help out, added 54%, while 32% said that they were left with no time for themselves.

The study was undertaken to help with the development of NHS Baby LifeCheck, a free online questionnaire to help new mums and dads. The website covers topics including development, talking and playing, feeding, healthy teeth, safety, sleep routine, immunisations and being a parent.

The new online tool replaces NHS Early Years LifeCheck which was launched in 83 areas in October last year.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

NHS Baby LifeCheck

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"As a Health Visitor with many years of experience and about to retire, mainly because I am in danger of becoming a PCT clone, they only appear to be concerned about us filling in the boxes and doing minute by minute activity levels, plus on spot dress inspection and diary audits. I did not train to do HV work like this, and the losers are going to be first time Mums without extended family support. I worry for the HV profession and its long-term prospects. I am going to take my experience and work in a third world country where I will be far more appreciated than in the UK" - Anne Evans, West Sussex

"I think that this highlights the need for health visitor resources to be used more universally in the early stages of parenthood. Group work such as baby massage provides an informal way of offering ongoing support and allows mothers to build up social networks of their own - invaluable in the prevention of low mood and social isolation" - Alice Gibson, West London