We were so pleased to see that BBC One’s ‘My Baby, Psychosis and Me’ won the best Documentary award at the MIND Media Awards last week.
1 in 10 women suffer mental health problems in pregnancy and parenthood.
It is fantastic to see this BBC documentary shedding light on an issue which often goes unspoken about.
At Tommy's, we campaign to encourage women to speak about their mental health in pregnancy and seek help with our #TalkToSomeone campaign and through our pregnancy information service.
The documentary follows two brave mothers’ experiences of postpartum psychosis as they are cared for at Winchester’s Mother and Baby Unit by psychiatrist Dr Alain Gregoire.
The BBC says, ‘This is the untold story of what it means to battle this terrifying condition.’
Postpartum psychosis is a very serious mental illness that is triggered by childbirth and overwhelms mothers with extreme highs or lows, strange and dangerous thoughts and paranoia.
While it is the most severe form of mental distress psychiatrists see, with the right medication and psychological support most women can return home within six weeks.
Tommy’s midwife Kate urges anyone who is concerned about their partner’s mental health to seek help.
‘Postpartum psychosis is a rare but a very serious illness and is often unpredictable. Whilst a diagnosis of bipolar disorder does increase the risk of postpartum psychosis, it does not mean it will happen, it can affect anyone. Whether you are pregnant or have had your baby, it is so important to talk to your midwife or GP about how you are feeling and if you notice any changes in mood or emotions. Most postpartum psychosis suffers do not recognise that they’re unwell and because the illness is often unpredictable it can also be difficult for partners, family and friends to recognise. If you have any worries or doubts about you or your partner’s mental health then it’s important to seek help and talk to health professionals as soon as possible.’
This documentary is an important step in the right direction towards getting maternal mental health the focus it deserves.
A spokesperson for the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, of which Tommy's is a member, said, ‘It was a great night for perinatal mental health awareness.’
Pregnancy and having a baby can be an exciting and demanding time for women. If you have an existing or past mental health condition it brings extra challenges and you are at higher risk of relapse during this time than at others.
Anyone who has had a traumatic experience (such as a violent attack or serious accident where their life has been in danger) experiences a stress reaction for at least a few weeks afterwards.
Bipolar disorder used to be called ‘manic depression’ because it causes extreme mood swings.
If you have an eating disorder (or have had one in the past), you may find it hard when your body gets bigger as your baby grows.
Although it’s normal to have periods of worry and stress when you’re pregnant, some women have feelings that don’t go away and this can be a sign of something more serious.
Pregnancy brings new emotions and it can be hard for women to tell what's normal and when they should look for help.