Around 8,670 babies are born (live) each year in Norfolk. While motherhood is usually a positive and fulfilling experience, it can be associated with poor physical and mental health. Promoting healthy behaviours can give children the best start in life. Smoking in pregnancy can cause serious pregnancy-related health problems including complications during labour and an increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, low birth-weight and sudden unexpected death in infancy. Breastfeeding is associated with positive health outcomes for both mother and baby in early years and later life, rates of breastfeeding in Norfolk are improving. In their first year infants are vulnerable to ill health and accidents, and as a consequence have a high rate of using health services and admissions to hospital.
Maternal health refers to the health of women during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. Around 8,670 babies are born (live) each year in Norfolk. While motherhood is usually a positive and fulfilling experience, it can be associated with ill-health. The major direct causes of maternal morbidity and mortality include haemorrhage, infection, high blood pressure and obstructed labour.
Maternity health resources
Perinatal mental illness encompasses a range of mental health conditions that mothers may experience during pregnancy or in the first year after the birth of their child. Illnesses include antenatal and postnatal depression, maternal obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety and psychotic disorders. These conditions may be experienced for the first time in the perinatal period, or childbirth can lead to a recurrence of existing conditions. Experiencing mental health problems can make adjustment to motherhood and caring for new and existing children more difficult, and can impact upon the mother’s self-esteem. NICE estimate 3% of mothers will experience severe mental health needs and 10-30% will have mild to moderate mental health needs.
Mental health resources
Mental health needs assessment
2013 | Norfolk County Council
2013 | Norfolk County Council
An infant is a child aged between birth and one year. Infants are vulnerable to ill health and accidents, and around half visit an Accident and Emergency (A&E) department each year, leading to one in three being admitted. Infant mortality represents a particularly distressing category of premature death and is an indicator of the general health of an entire population. In the two years between 2014 and 2016 there were 101 infant deaths in Norfolk. Infant deaths account for around 60% of the all deaths of children and young people in the county (aged 0-19).
Infant health resources
Breastfeeding is associated with positive health outcomes for both mother and baby in early years and later life. The NHS recommends that mothers exclusively breastfeed their baby for the first 26 weeks of life followed by a combination of breast milk and other foods. In Norfolk 77% of mothers initiate breastfeeding within the first 2 days after delivery, and by the time the baby is 6-8 weeks this has dropped to 45% (which is above the national average).
Smoking & pregnancy
Smoking in pregnancy can cause serious pregnancy-related health problems, including complications during labour and an increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth, low birth-weight and sudden unexpected death in infancy. Potential harms to the child include the increased chance of attention difficulties, increased chance of breathing problems and increased chance of poor educational attainment. Smoking in pregnancy is five times more likely in deprived areas and so disproportionately impacts on deprived communities. In Norfolk in 2016/17 more than 1,060 mothers were smoking at time of delivery. This is 12.7% of mothers compared to 10.7% in England and a reduction from 2014/15 rate of 14.3%.
Smoking & pregnancy resources
Teenage Pregnancy (usually defined as pregnancy in young people aged under 18) is an important health issue for young people because most teenage pregnancies are unplanned and around half end in an abortion. While many teenagers do make excellent parents, bringing up a child as a teenager can be extremely difficult and result in poor outcomes for both the teenage parent and the child. The rate of young women under the age of 18 conceiving has dropped considerably over recent years in Norfolk, following the national trend. The number of teenage pregnancies in Norfolk fell from 591 in 2007 to 285 in 2016. There were approximately 80 births to teenaged mothers in 2016/17 in Norfolk.
Teenage pregnancy resources
Parents & deprivation
Poverty causes deep material and psychological harm to those who experience it. Evidence suggests that childhood poverty leads to premature mortality and poor health outcomes for adults. Other evidence shows that children from the poorest families are four times more likely than rich ones to experience several mental health problems growing up. In Norfolk approximately 15% of children are living in households where income is less than 60 per cent of median household income before housing costs (HMRC definition of child poverty), which is below the National average of 17%.
Parents & deprivation resources