Puerperal Psychosis & related illnesses

Getting help

Information for partners, family and friends

This page is mainly focused on puerperal psychosis, as there seems to be a huge lack of information on support and help for partners.

Getting help for your partner

Puerperal psychosis

If you suspect your partner has puerperal psychosis, you should contact your health visitor, GP or midwife as soon as possible. Their telephone number will be on the first page of the little red book you were given entitled "personal child health record". If not, use the phone book or Directory Enquiries, 118 500.

If you're worried about the safety of your partner or of your child, stay with them at all times: your work should allow time for compassionate leave. Remember it's a medical condition that needs treatment by doctors, so the sooner it gets treatment, the better.

Post natal depression

If you think your partner is depressed, encourage her to talk about it and explore the possibility of counselling and seeing the doctor. If possible, see if you can make an appointment for the health visitor to drop by and be there to facilitate.

Help for you

Living with a partner with puerperal psychosis can be frightening, and, from experience, it is a very trying and very difficult time for you too. Information can be a small comfort - look at this site and others and know that post natal illnesses are very treatable.

The health visitor, midwife and doctors are there for you too. Speak to them, and they will help you get through this.

Talking about it

Family and friends count a lot now - but choose real friends who you know you can speak to in confidence. If your family has any reason to dislike your partner, it might be best not to tell them in case it's used as ammunition later on. It shouldn't be, but sadly this is the 21st century.

You can always talk to the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90, or you can email jo@samaritans.org in complete confidence, and there's also this site's forum.

Whether or not your partner is admitted to hospital, the support services, whether at hospital or in the community, are there for you too. Use them.

Arranging Childcare

If your partner is taken into hospital and there is no mother and baby unit available, or you feel you don't want you child living in one, or even if she feels desperately unable to manage, you may want to consider arranging childcare.

If you need to arrange childcare, do so with a DFES registered nursery or someone you know you can trust - your mum and dad, or parents-in-law. If you go with a nursery, be prepared for the cost, which can be as much as £40 per day, and if you work nights, you'll need to do some digging as most nurseries are day only. Also, read the contract carefully: I was stung when I found out I had to pay a month's fees for a week's care.

You can get tax credits from the Inland Revenue, which pay a large percentage of childcare costs, and your health visitor may be able to offer you a childminder for a reduced rate, subsidised by the NHS.

Looking after the baby

If you need help in the mechanics of looking after a baby, again speak to your health visitor or parent friends You can find some useful nappy changing tips on Paternity Angel. Don't worry - it will all come naturally!

Don't forget, depending on the age of your child, formula milk (read the instructions - SMA is one scoop per 30ml), baby food if the baby's old enough, and to stock up on nappies, wipes and nappy rash cream!

Dealing with your partner

Puerperal psychosis

Post natal depression