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Friday, 12 March, 1999, 13:48 GMT
Depressed mums 'need more help'
Depressed woman
Being a new mother can be very stressful
The Mothers' Union is launching a campaign for better support for new mums who suffer from depression.

It is thought that post natal illness affects 20% of new mums, but the Mothers' Union says many women have to deal with the problem alone.

It is calling for more calling on more support groups to be set up around the country.

The pressures of modern living appear to be exacerbating the problem.

In 1979, only 24% of women returned to work within a year of giving birth. By 1996, the figure was 67%.

Only 10% of women living in towns say they feel a real sense of community. In rural areas the figure is only 25%.

Mother and baby
The traditional role of the mother has changed greatly
Christine Eames, worldwide president of the Mothers' Union, said: "Current lifestyles mean that pregnant women carry on working until their baby is due.

"They may not know people in the area, don't know neighbours and suddenly they find themselves isolated, lonely and at home all day answering the needs of their new baby.

"Often immediate family are some distance away and are not able to provide the on-hand support which a new mother needs, especially if the father is not present.

"These factors increase a mother's vulnerability and her susceptibility to post natal illness."

Mary Alabaster, of the Wickford Health Centre in Essex, sees post natal depression as an increasing part of modern motherhood.

"Some people, because of their career structure, may have to move to different countries, or a different part of the country. They leave family and friends behind and having a baby in a new area can be very isolating for these new mothers."

The Mothers' Union is calling on its 120,000 UK members to contact local health authorities, GPs and health visitors in order to help set up more support groups for parents of children under one-year-old.

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The BBC's Kim Catcheside: "Working mothers are often more isolated"
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