Kate Middleton delivers powerful speech as patron of Maternal Mental Health Alliance – watch

Kate Middleton has spoken openly about the "challenges" and "loneliness" of birth and raising children in their younger years as she announced her latest patronage with Maternal Mental Health Alliance.

The Duchess of Cambridge, 40, who has a sweet baking tradition with her three children, has long been passionate about awareness for family support and the importance of children's early years, and as Maternal Mental Health Awareness week arrives on May 10, she has shared an important video detailing her work for the cause going forward.

Wearing a stunning blue floral dress for the poignant statement, the Duchess began by saying while the birth of a child is one of life's "greatest gifts", it can also be one of "the most challenging times" for families.

The mum-of-three shares children Prince George, eight, Princess Charlotte, seven, and Prince Louis, four, with her husband Prince William.

The powerful video saw the Duchess go on to say that families should not face the difficulties of childbirth and raising children "alone", as she insisted that this year's Maternal Mental Health Alliance week is about the "power and importance of connection".

"The past couple of years have reminded us just how much we need each other, and how vital our relationships are to our longterm health and happiness," the Duchess continued.

"This starts in the earliest years of our lives, when we need close and continuous care from the people around us, to nurture our development, and ensure that we get the right start in life.

"But we all know that pregnancy, childbirth and the first months and years of a child's life can be hugely demanding," the mum-of-three explained. "Parents often feel lonely and overwhelmed by these early years."

The Duchess went on to say that a whopping "20 per cent" of women in the UK are reported to have experienced perinatal mental illness, which refers to mental health suffering during pregnancy or in the first year after childbirth.

"Sadly we also know that many more are suffering in silence," Kate told the camera, as she sat in a beautiful light room with a giant orchid behind her.

"No one is immune to experiencing anxiety and depression during this time," the Royal said.

"It is crucial therefore, that all those who might be struggling, are given the right support at the right time.

"So that they're able to share these feelings without fear of judgement, and can access the information, care and support they so desperately need to recover."

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As the video came to its conclusion, the Duchess revealed that after a decade with charities coming together to "transform attitudes, raise awareness and ensure that services are available to parents and babies", she is "extremely proud" to become patron of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance.

"There's plenty more to be done, and it's down to each and every one of us to support parents and carers, and all those who are raising children today," the future Queen consort added.

"By ensuring the next generation of children can thrive, we can help to build a stronger, healthier and more nurturing society which benefits us all."

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