Postpartum Psychosis Risk after Childbirth
Whilst in the worst pain I've ever experienced in my life after several hours of labour - a new midwife wheeled in the see-through clear cot in anticipation of the arrival of my baby into my hospital room.
I was quite relieved to see this as I felt I was never going to deliver after 20 hours of nothing much happening - so they must have known something I did not I suspected.
"How are you Tina ?", she asked sweetly.
"Just wish it was all over", I said in a daze.
"Well don't you worry they all come out in the end. I'm just making sure everything is all set for baby's arrival", she said pottering around and taking a look at my notes.
I was not really paying too much attention as I was very distracted by my pain - however I did notice she slipped a piece of paper under the little hospital blanket under the cot. It was clearly done hoping I had not spotted it.
She left the room and I immediately told my husband what I had just seen - he was facing me on the bed and had his back to the cot so had not seen anything.
I knew it must be something confidential or why the covert behaviour.
Anyway I had to see what It was.
In black and white - "Postpartum Psychosis Risk after Childbirth...."
My past was coming back to haunt me again and I was so upset. My heart sank. I also felt very angry that they had not discussed it with me or even brought it to my attention. It was done so I would not even know what they were thinking - perhaps they felt I could not be trusted with this information?
It was something I had not ever imagined to happen - but knew in the back of my mind with all my previous mental health history this made me a huge risk of developing Postpartum Psychosis... Especially as I had suffered an episode of psychosis a couple of years previously.
It made me feel very sad and worried beyond belief. I now expected straight after the birth my brain would change and I would be back in a psychotic state - a state that terrified me in the past and one I never wanted to experience again.
When I was in a psychiatric unit as teenager with anorexia there were a few ladies with their babies in side rooms. I learned all about the illness of which I had never heard of before. It always struck me how upsetting it must be for everyone concerned and how devastating - so now to know they expected this to happen to me was terrifying.
My birth had taken a new twist in my head for which I was not prepared. I just prayed all my mental preparation would keep me safe.
Much to my relief as soon as my baby was born I felt love - I bonded. Everything seemed ok. But I knew the next few days and weeks would be very important.
I was not allowed home after the birth as they wanted to "keep an eye on me" they said. I was in a lot of pain and exhausted so was more than happy to stay - but I was waiting with a huge dread for intrusive thoughts to kick in or something to happen to me mentally.
My brain started to over analyse my feelings looking for any tell-tale signs - but thankfully nothing came.
Within a week of being home I became very tearful, obsessive and regimented. But I was still bonding and felt love for my baby so I tried not to worry about it or over-analyse everything.
I was just trying to absorb giving birth for the first time and learn all about my baby. It's quite a daunting time and one which is very unique and special so not to be wasted worrying needlessly.
My midwife was in each day for many weeks making sure I was ok and thankfully I was. I told her everything with honesty.
To tell the truth I felt I had some level of obsessive behaviours - which controlled so much of my days around my new baby- but thankfully I did not develop the psychosis.
I think this is something that new mums fear especially if they have a previous bout of mental illness. I've spoken to many ladies who have felt this way and some who actually went through postpartum psychosis.
But what I think would be helpful is honesty from the primary care team. So many ladies I talk to now about this subject feel it's not discussed enough during pregnancy so they feel they don't have enough information.
If you are fully prepared then can make provisions mentally as well as emotionally and not be a nervous wreck living in fear of the unknown.
The good thing is that it's rare to have this happen - and if it did they can treat it so well now with excellent outcomes.
This is a subject I feel is very important due to the stigma as with all mental illnesses - however stigma cases silence - which only makes issues a million times worse.
No new mum should feel too scared or ashamed to ask for advice or seek help at any point in their lives.
Thankfully society as a whole is becoming so much more aware and this is incredible!
So from my own experience ask for advice if you have any concerns. You want to be relaxed to enjoy the precious time with your baby and have no fears or concerns....trust me your new baby is going to fill your many hours with plenty of joyous moments, memories, giggles and tears for many months to come so you need all your positive energy for those times so enjoy!