Some facts & figures to put this particular rage in context.
221* women every day will suffer from postnatal depression in the UK. 4* women every day will suffer from postpartum psychosis (I was one of those ‘lucky’ 4)
Tragically 5 in every 100 women with postpartum psychosis go on to commit suicide. Even worse, it is estimated that as many as 4 in 100 commit infanticide. The rates of both maternal suicide and infanticide have remained unchanged since 1957. What on earth are we getting so wrong: why are preventable deaths continuing to happen despite the fact that we have now had the NHS for over 60 years?
Do you want to know something scary? STIGMA is a huge part of the problem.
How many of you parents out there were warned about the early signs of postpartum psychosis in your NHS antenatal classes? How many of your midwives mentioned it to you?
OK, now how many of you have read a horror story in the press recently about a ‘baby killer’ (Thanks for that one, Sunday Times Magazine).
Put these things together and you have a toxic combination:
(1) Uninformed health professionals
(2) New parents with no idea that postpartum psychosis exists, let alone what it might feel like in the early days
(3) Mothers fearing stigma if they tell a heath professional that they are beginning to feel ‘a bit weird’ after childbirth
To my mind, the reporting of postpartum psychosis also reflects a wider polarized view. You’re either a Madonna with Child, beatifically breastfeeding your angelic newborn – or you’re a “Psycho Mom”. The reality of motherhood for so many of us falls far short.
Join our campaign to get more people talking about postnatal illness – and maybe we will finally see the back of tragic, preventable deaths. Let’s get real that the ‘happiest time of your life’ can be weird, scary and exhausting. But with the right treatment families can live to tell their amazing stories of recovery. Click on this link to find out more: www.app-network.org
*Based on 2012 birth rate x incidence of PND or PP/365 days