Our service is part of Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, one of the largest NHS mental health and healthcare providers in London.

For over 50 years, Coombe Wood has been providing inpatient services for mothers with mental health difficulties whilst keeping them together with their babies. The Mother & Baby Unit was the first to be set up in the UK, initially in Hertfordshire. Following its move in 1993, the Perinatal Unit is now in north-west London.

Coombe Wood now offers three specialist perinatal mother-baby services: an inpatient treatment service and a residential parenting assessment service available to many areas in south-tast England, and a local community-based treatment and support service for Brent & Harrow;



First mother & baby admitted to a ward in Shenley Hospital


Mother and Baby Unit established with eight beds in Coombe Wood, Shenley Hospital


Moved to dedicated unit at The Park Royal Centre for Mental Health with 10 beds


Established perinatal community mental health service


Established residential parenting assessment service


By admitting mothers and their babies together we can provide a therapeutic programme to meet the needs of mothers and infants that encourages bonding and develops parenting abilities, whilst addressing their mental health needs.

There are a number of studies that demonstrate the benefits of keeping mothers and babies together and fostering good attachments between infants and their parents. Specialist mother and baby units offer the ideal environment for a parent with mental health difficulties to be treated whilst maintaining a relationship with the infant, rather then separating a mother from her baby when admitting mothers to adult psychiatric wards. There is also a wealth of development research which shows that the mutually pleasurable interactions between babies and their parents are vitally important in supporting a baby’s early development and lifelong and physical mental health.* These mutually pleasurable interactions between babies and their parents are vital to early cognitive and emotional development and later physical and mental health.

Our dedicated and experienced specialist teams are therefore focused on:

  • Providing comprehensive assessment, treatment and support for women experiencing emotional or psychiatric difficulties
  • Helping mothers develop parenting skills and facilitate bonding in a homely, welcoming environment
  • Delivering a therapeutic programme that meets the needs of mothers and infants and minimises the risk of relapse or readmission

*Porter, L.L. The Science of Attachment: The Biological Roots of Love, Mothering Magazine, Issue 119, July/August 2003

Grienenberger J, Kelly K, Slade, A. (2005). ‘Maternal reflective functioning, mother-infant affective communication and infant attachment: Exploring the link between mental states and observed caregiving behavior in the intergenerational transmission of attachment’. Attachment and Human Development 7(3), 299-311.

*Fonagy, P., Gergely, G., Jurist, E., Target, M.  (2002)  Affect Regulation, Mentalization, and the Developmentof the Self.  Other Press:New York.

*Hobson, P. (2002) The Cradle of Thought. London: Macmillan

*Schore, A. (1994) Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self. Hove, UK:Lawrence Earlbaum Associates.

*Stern, D, (1998) The Interpersonal World of the Infant. London: Karnac.

*Trevarthen, C. (1989)  ‘Development of early social interactions and the affective regulation of brain growth’.  In C. von Euler, H. Forssberg, and H. Lagercrantz (Eds) Neurobiology of Early Infant Behaviour.  Basingstoke,UK: Macmillan.