For women who have experienced postnatal psychosis, having a stable home environment where stress is kept to a minimum level is really important for recovery. Getting lots of rest and having good quality sleep is also really important. This of course can be challenging when the family is caring for a young baby and possibly other children. Where possible it can be helpful to get support from family members or friends.
You may, however, want to let people know what would be most helpful, rather than having others decide what you need. Practical support (e.g. grocery shopping, cooking meals, cleaning), especially in the early days of coming home from hospital, can often be helpful.
When they return home from hospital, women will often look to their partners, family and friends for emotional support and reassurance. Many women tell us they find the act of being listened to without judgement or trying to 'fix' her problems to be hugely beneficial.
Gentle support in caring for the baby can also be helpful as it’s not uncommon for women who have experienced postnatal psychosis to lose confidence in their skills as a mum.
As the woman recovers, it can also be helpful to develop a routine for the care of the baby that allows the parents to have quality time, both as a couple and individually.
Many women find self care to be a really important part of their recovery process. While self care means different things to different people, activities that she finds comforting or that provide her with pleasure can contribute positively to her well-being. It may just be the simple act of having a cup of tea while reading a book or taking the dog for a walk; everyone is different.
Once a woman is discharged from hospital she will need to continue regular visits with the health professional who is managing her care (e.g. GP or psychiatrist). This is to ensure her mental health is monitored and her medications reviewed. It allows her to express any concerns she may have about herself and/or her relationship with her baby as well as her relationship with her partner and family.
As the woman recovers and begins to benefit from her medication, counselling can help her to develop effective day to day coping strategies. Mother–infant based therapy can also be useful to strengthen mother-baby bonding. Counselling/support is also recommended for partners and key support people. PANDA’s National Helpline can offer telephone support for women, partners and key support people and provide referrals for face-to face counsellors.
Connect with others
Sometimes women who have lived through postnatal psychosis find it valuable to connect with others who have been through a similar experience. Beyond PP is a Facebook group created by mums who have experienced postnatal psychosis and who want to reach out to other women and families to share information, stories and experiences.
Beyond PP do not currently have a website, however there is an email address to contact for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org