Elaine’s story (Chester)
The birth of my son was very difficult. I had a retained placenta, which led to me haemorrhaging after he was born. A consequence of this traumatic experience was that I developed mild to severe postnatal depression, which eventually led to psychosis when my son was seven months old.
Given electroconvulsive therapy
Before my psychotic episode, I’d spoken to my GP, who prescribed me anti-depressants. I also joined a support group for six weeks. But things escalated and I ended up staying in a general psychiatric hospital for eight weeks. Being hospitalised without my baby was extremely difficult, and especially because I had to stop breastfeeding overnight. During my stay in the hospital, I was given ECT [electroconvulsive therapy] and worked with an occupational therapist. Following discharge, I was visited by a community psychiatric nurse.
More and better services
Being cared for without my son was not ideal. There needed to be more awareness then, as there needs to be more awareness now, of how perinatal mental health problems affect a woman and her family. We need to get more and even better specialist perinatal mental health services commissioned. If my feelings of shame had been effectively treated early on, and my family had been advised of ways to help me, I believe I would not have become so ill.