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Postpartum Psychosis: Review and Resources Plus Additional PPMAD Resources

October 8th, 2013 by avatar

We are just a few days past the sad events that occurred in Washington DC, right near the capital, when Miriam Carey, a mother of a year old child slammed her car into security barricades and led law enforcement officials on a high speed car chase, injured federal officials and was shot and killed, all while having her baby in the car.

It is not clear at this time, what exactly led Miriam Carey to behave the way she did, but it has been suggested that she was suffering from postpartum depression.  Postpartum mood and anxiety disorders (PPMAD) affect approximately 20 percent of all new mothers.  While not every circumstance of PPMAD escalates into a situation like what we saw last week, we do know that many women and their families are not aware of the signs and symptoms of PPMAD, most women do not seek help and are not provided information and resources for proper treatment.  Left untreated PPMADs can become a situation where the mother may harm herself or others.

As childbirth educators and professionals who work with birthing women, it is imperative that we speak and share, both prenatally and in the postpartum period. about PPMAD illnesses, and provide resources for help.  Here is some previously provided information on Postpartum Psychosis along with great resources provided by regular contributor, Walker Karraa, PhD.  Click to see previous Science & Sensibility posts on postpartum mood and anxiety disorder topics, for even more resources for professionals to share with parents. – Sharon Muza, Science & Sensibility Community Manager.

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http://flic.kr/p/7U4sW

Despite mounting credible medical evidence of the realty of postpartum issues and their effect on the mindset of the new mother, we as a country still remain the only civilized society that refuses to legally acknowledge the existence of this illness.—George Parnham, Attorney for Andrea Pia Yates

I wrote an OP/ED recently titled, “Who is at Stake? Andrea Yates, CNN and the Call for Revolution” at Katherine Stone’s Postpartum Progress. Given the airing of the CNN Crimes of the Century featuring Andrea Yates, I compiled a brief review of the facts and resources that might be helpful in approaching the topic in childbirth education. Thanks to Sharon Muza for supporting this piece.

Postpartum psychosis (PPP) is a psychiatric emergency that requires immediate medical attention.

It has been acknowledged in medical literature since Hippocrates 4th Century (Brockington, Cernick, Schofield, Downing, Francis, Keelan, 1981; Healy, 2013). In a comparative study of epidemiological data regarding perinatal melancholia from 1875-1924 and then 1995-2005, Healy (2013) concluded:

History shows that complaints can be readily tailored to fashionable remedies, whereas disease has a relative invariance. The disease may wax and wane in virulence, treatments and associated conditions may modify its course, but the disease has a continuity that underpins a commonality of clinical presentations across time. (p. 190)

Women experience PPP. Women have experienced PPP. And women in the future could avoid this tragedy by recognizing this mental illness. PPP is frequently confused with postpartum depression in public and professional nomenclature. It is extremely important to emphasize the difference in discussion of perinatal mental health with clients and students, as the word “postpartum” means different things to different students and providers.

Postpartum psychosis is not postpartum depression, lack of sleep, or postpartum anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder. PPP is a psychiatric emergency, tantamount to a medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention.

Prevalence

Postpartum psychosis affects 1-2 women per 1,000 births globally, and while rare, it is an extremely severe postpartum mood disorder (Kendell, Chalmers, & Platz, 1987; Munk-Olsen, Laursen, Pedersen, Mors, & Mortensen, 2006). Postpartum psychosis (PPP) occurs in all cultures, affecting mothers across socioeconomic, ethnic, and religious communities (Kumar, 1994).

Symptoms

Symptoms of postpartum psychosis are sudden in onset, usually occurring within 48 hours to 2 weeks following birth. Postpartum psychosis represents “psychiatric emergency and warrants hospitalization” (Beck & Driscoll, 2009, p. 47).

  • Waxing and waning delirium and amnesia (Spinelli, 2009)
  • “Cognitive Disorganization/Psychosis”
    • Wisner, Peindl, and Hanusa (1994) discovered that disturbances of sensory perceptions were a feature of the cognitive disruption experienced in postpartum psychosis. These include auditory, tactile, visual, and olfactory hallucinations.
    • Memory and cognitive impairment such as confusion and amnesia (Wisner et al., 1994).
    • Agitation, irritability
    • Paranoid delusions
    • Confusion
    • Bizarre and changing delusions
    • Suicidal or infanticidal intrusive thoughts with ego syntonic feature (Spinelli, 2009; Wisner et al., 1994)

In other perinatal mood or anxiety disorders, intrusive thoughts of self-harm or harming the baby are known as ego-dystonic and are common (41%-57%; Brandes, Soares, Cohen, 2004). Ego dystonic cognitions are thoughts experienced by the woman as abhorrent, and she recognizes that they inconsistent with her personality and fundamental beliefs (see: Kleiman & Wenzel, 2010 Dropping the Baby and Other Scary Thoughts).

In contrast, for a woman experiencing postpartum psychosis, the intrusive thoughts or ideations, of harming self or other are ego-syntonic—intrusive thoughts experienced as reasonable, appropriate and are “associated with psychotic beliefs and loss of reality testing, with a compulsion to act on them and without the ability to assess the consequences of their actions” (Spinelli, 2009, p. 405).

If left untreated, some dire potential outcomes include: 

  • 5% of women who experience PPP commit suicide (Appleby, Mortensen, & Faragher, 1998; Knopps, 1993).
  • 2%-4% are at risk of harming their infants (Knopps, 1993; Spinelli, 2004).
  • As high as a 90% recurrence rate (Kendell et al., 1987)

Risk Factors

  • Women with history of bipolar disorder or previous postpartum psychosis

“A personal history of bipolar disorder is the most significant risk factor for developing PP.” (Dorfman, Meisner, & Frank, 2012, p. 257)

  • Having a first-degree relative who has bipolar disorder, or experienced an episode of postpartum psychosis
  • Current research demonstrates that contrary to popular beliefs, PPP is often the result of either bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder with psychotic features, and there is little frequency of PPP caused by reactive psychosis or schizophrenia (McGorry & Connell, 1990).

Suggestions for Educators:

Reflect/Remind/Review/Refer

Given the stigma, misinformation and confusion regarding postpartum mental illness and particularly postpartum psychosis– it is important to clearly, and objectively identify and differentiate the full spectrum of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. From the most prevalent and benign ‘baby blues’ to the most rare and severe postpartum psychosis, women and partners need accurate, accessible information to dispel myths, and give resources. See your education organization for their handouts, citations and referrals regarding PMADs in your curriculum.

Reflect back that you hear their concern. Repeat the question out loud so that others hear it. Chances are everyone in the room has a question around the topic of mental health, and as we know, 1 in 7 of the general population of childbearing women will develop a postpartum mood or anxiety disorder. Acknowledging the topic non-judgmentally by restating the question brings the topic into the room, reflects that you have heard the concerns expressed and not expressed, and that you are capable of holding the space for a quick, accurate review. 

Remind: PPP is Rare but Real

Remind class/clients that the incidence of PPP is extremely rare. Only 1-2 per 1,000 women develop postpartum psychosis. Secondly, with medical attention and treatment, PPP is preventable, and treatable. It is different than postpartum blues, depression, PTSD, or anxiety. Symptoms of PPP require immediate medical attention. 

Review the Facts

  • Rates: Only occurs in 1-2 per 1,000
  • Risk: Women with history of bipolar disorder or previous postpartum psychosis, and women with family history of bipolar disorder or first degree relative with history of postpartum psychosis are at higher risk.
  • PPP is preventable
  • PPP is treatable
  • PPP prevention and treatment require medical evaluation, intervention and care

Refer to Resources

What makes a good resource? Referring to accurate and accessible resources is an essential response to questions and concerns regarding postpartum psychosis (PPP).  Avoid any anecdotal advice regarding complimentary alternative medicine. The onset of PPP is tantamount to a medical emergency and requires immediate medical attention.

Have resources available in several formats and languages just as you would for other resources regarding childbirth education. Make sure your links, telephone numbers, and local resources are working and up to date.

Resources for Women and Partners Postpartum Progress

 Postpartum Psychosis Symptoms (in Plain Mama English)

Postpartum Support International 1-800-944-4PPD

 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK

Mother to Baby (formerly OTIS)

Medications & More During Pregnancy & Breastfeeding.

(866) 626-6847

Text-4-Baby Health Info Links

References

Appleby, L., Mortensen, P., & Faragher, E. (1998). Suicide and other causes of mortality after post-partum psychiatric admission. British Journal of Psychiatry, 173, 209-211.

Beck, C. & Driscoll, J. (2006). Postpartum mood and anxiety disorders: A clinician’s guide. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3, 77-101. doi:10.191/1478088706qp063oa

Brockington, I. F., Cernik, K. F., Schofield, E.M., Downing, A.R., Francis, A.F., & Keelan, C. (1981). Puerperal psychosis: phenomena and diagnosis. Archives of General Psychiatry, 38, 829-833.

Dorfman, J., Meisner, R., & Frank, J.B. (2012). Prevention and diagnosis of postpartum psychosis. Psychiatric Annals, 42(7), 257-261. doi:10.3928/00485713-20120705-05.

Doucet, S., Letourneau, N., & Blackmore, E. R. (2012). Support needs of mothers who experience postpartum psychosis and their partners. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecological & Neonatal Nursing, 41(2), 236-245.

Healey, D. (2013). Melancholia: Past and present. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 58(4), 190-194.

Kendell, R., Chalmers, J., & Platz, C. (1987). Epidemiology of puerperal psychosis. British Journal of Psychiatry, 150, 662-673.

Knopps, G. (1993). Postpartum mood disorders: A startling contrast to the joy of birth. Postgraduate Medicine, 93, 103-116.

Kumar, R. (1994). Postnatal mental illness: A transcultural perspective. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 29, 250-264. doi:10.1007/BF00802048

McGorry, P., & Connell, S. (1990). The nosology and prognosis of puerperal psychosis: A review. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 31, 519-534.

Munk-Olsen, T., Laursen, T., Pederson, C., Mors, O., & Mortensen, P. (2006). New parents and mental disorders: A population-based register study. Journal of the American Medical Association, 296(21), 2582-2589. doi:10.1001/jama.296.21.2582

Spinelli, M. (2004). Maternal infanticide associated with mental illness: Prevention and promise of saved lives. American Journal of Psychiatry, 161(9), 1548-1557.

 

Guest Posts, Infant Attachment, Maternal Mental Health, Newborns, Parenting an Infant, Perinatal Mood Disorders, Postpartum Depression, PTSD , , , , , , ,

Professional Perspectives Part III: Advocacy, Postpartum Doulas and Childbirth Education

December 13th, 2012 by avatar

By: Walker Karraa

Regular contributor Walker Karraa has written an excellent three part series on Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMAD) and what the childbirth educator or birth professional can do to help women get the help they may need when dealing with mental illness during the prenatal and postpartum period.  Walker interviews experts in the field who all offer concrete steps, activities and resources so that educators and others can do to be more prepared to discuss this important subject with students and clients.  Today, Walker interviews Jennifer Moyer, an expert in the field of postpartum psychosis who is an active mental health advocate, and has had personal experience with postpartum psychosis after her son’s birth. Here you can find Part I and Part II of the series.– Sharon Muza, Community Manager.

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“Childbirth professionals have a unique opportunity to reach a tremendous number of women and families as most pregnant women participate in some type of childbirth class.” —Jennifer Moyer


 

http://flic.kr/p/Tx5rm

As many of you know, I am a big proponent of qualitative research methods. The lived experience of a phenomenon offers a depth of data that objectivist methods simply cannot collect. Researchers in women’s reproductive health have been on the forefront of the understanding and implementation of research that listens to mothers. In the same way, I wanted to offer Science and Sensibility readers the voice of a mother, postpartum doula, and advocate who has lived it—experienced postpartum psychosis (PP) and not only “survived”, but transformed the adversity into a path to helping others.

Jennifer Moyer has unique insight into mental health as a recovered mom herself. She overcame postpartum psychosis, a life threatening mental illness, which she was struck with when her son was eight weeks old. She has focused her efforts on being a mental health advocate in the area of perinatal mental health in order to help others experiencing mental illness related to childbearing.

Jennifer also has experience as a postpartum support and education consultant, a certified postpartum doula and a speaker on mental health issues.

WK: The recent Felicia Boots tragedy in the UK has brought media attention to the dangers of untreated perinatal mood disorders, specifically postpartum psychosis (PP). What are your thoughts as to the multiple factors that contribute to a tragedy such as this? 

Jennifer Moyer: I believe there are several factors that contribute to tragedies associated with perinatal mood disorders.  One of the factors is the ignorance about the difference between postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis, which is usually the disorder associated with infanticide.  In my experience with postpartum psychosis, I was completely unaware that postpartum psychosis even existed despite having an educated and proactive pregnancy.  I think many mothers are in the same situation.

Another contributing factor is that providers often do not provide education on the warning signs or risk factors of perinatal mood disorders making it difficult for a mother or her loved ones to recognize what is happening.  Of course the lack of preventative screening also causes a mother at risk from receiving early intervention.

There are other factors as well but I believe these are the primary obstacles contributing to unnecessary tragedies.

WK: Can you describe the sequelae of postpartum psychosis (PP)? 

Jennifer Moyer: An aftereffect or secondary result of postpartum psychosis is different for each mother but, in general, I have found that it changes the mother forever.  In my case, postpartum psychosis came on sudden and unexpectedly.  Once I was stabilized, the trauma I had experienced prior to my diagnosis left me with serious post-traumatic stress.  It also shattered the positive and strong bond I had with my son prior to the onset of postpartum psychosis.  It caused me to question my ability has a mother for a very long time.  The lack of understanding about my condition as well as lack of support from someone, who had experienced postpartum psychosis, lengthened my recovery and made it much more difficult.

Postpartum PsychosisPostpartum Psychosis is a rare illness, compared to the rates of postpartum depression or anxiety. It occurs in approximately 1 to 2 out of every 1,000 deliveries, or approximately .1% of births. The onset is usually sudden, most often within the first 4 weeks postpartum.Symptoms of postpartum psychosis can include:

  • Delusions or strange beliefs
  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there)
  • Feeling very irritated
  • Hyperactivity
  • Decreased need for or inability to sleep
  • Paranoia and suspiciousness
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Difficulty communicating at times

The most significant risk factors for postpartum psychosis are a personal or family history of bipolar disorder, or a previous psychotic episode.

source: Postpartum Support International

WK: How might childbirth professionals integrate an understanding of PP and other perinatal mood disorders in classes? 

Jennifer Moyer: I believe education on perinatal mood disorders should be included in every childbirth class.  In fact, when I worked as a Postpartum Support and Education Consultant, I did a presentation on perinatal mood disorders in every childbirth class conducted at a hospital in my area.  By educating the mother and her partner about the risk factors, symptoms and proper treatment, early intervention occurred when a case did occur.  My involvement helped educate the childbirth professionals, which led to them ultimately address perinatal mood disorders on their own in their classes.  To me, the goal is to educate as much as possible so that the information can be passed on to women and their families.  Childbirth professionals have a unique opportunity to reach a tremendous number of women and families as most pregnant women participate in some type of childbirth class.

WK: How would you describe the stigma of perinatal mental health disorders and its impact?

Jennifer Moyer: The stigma of perinatal mental health disorders prevents women from getting help when they need it.  Often because of the stigma and lack of understanding, women are often afraid they will lose their child (children) if they do seek help.  The stigma of perinatal mental health disorders is devastating to families and communities. When families and the community are not educated about perinatal mental health disorders, it makes it difficult for the disorders to be properly addressed, treated and prevented.  I have heard of way too many cases of the mother losing her children because of the lack of understanding and education of perinatal mental health disorders in the community.

WK: What do you see as the most significant barriers to treatment for women with PMADs?

Jennifer Moyer: I believe the most significant barrier is the lack of proper education and training of health care professionals.  Another barrier is the failure of the providers, who are not properly trained, to refer the women to perinatal mental health resources or if no resources available in the area, to consult with an expert in perinatal mental health.  So many women are improperly treated.  I know of many cases where the woman contacted her doctor for assistance and were only prescribed an antidepressant, often over the phone, and received no further direction or support.  So it goes back to education or, in the case of the primary barrier, the lack of education.

WK: Recently, the study The risks of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor use in infertile women: a review of the impact on fertility, pregnancy, neonatal health and beyond (Domar, Moragianni, Ryley & Urato, 2012) attracted attention regarding the safety of using SSRI medication in pregnancy. Would you like to respond to the study directly?

Jennifer Moyer: I am not a medical professional so I cannot respond in depth but from a lay person’s perspective, this information can cause many pregnant women from seeking help, if they are experiencing any perinatal mental health issues.  My understanding is there is always a risk/benefit analysis when it comes to medication so education about options is so important.  In my opinion, it seems that medication is often the only intervention presented rather than a more complete and balanced plan of treatment, which may include medication when necessary. Educating women about their options should always be a priority but if the health care professionals are not properly educated in perinatal mental health, how can they educate anyone else?

WK: What suggestions do you have regarding how childbirth organizations can encompass perinatal mental health into training curriculum and practice? 

Jennifer Moyer: Offering and requiring specific training on perinatal mental health for all members would increase awareness, education, treatment and most importantly prevention.  Offering continuing education and ways of implementing mental health into their practice would help eliminate stigma and, when necessary, increase referral and treatment to perinatal mental health professionals.

WK: What can we do to increase the understanding that a woman’s mental health is part of maternal health?  

Jennifer Moyer: Although the old saying “if mom is not happy, no one is happy”, puts pressure on moms, it does stress the importance of maternal health.  The health of mothers is critical to society and communities everywhere.  The more mental health is talked about, the better understanding will occur.  As you probably have realized from my previous responses, I am a huge proponent of education.  I believe it is the key to decreasing stigma and bringing about positive changes in the health of women both mentally and in general.

Next Steps

In what ways can childbirth educators participate in bringing about positive changes within this paradigm? How can health care professionals learn more about how the role mother’s mental health plays in so many of the dynamics of the new mother and child(ren). Would you be interested in a webinar on this topic?  Where do you as a birth professional go for more resources, information and teaching tools on the topic of postpartum mental health?

About Jennifer Moyer

Jennifer Moyer has various media experience including her personal story being published in the February 2002 issue of Glamour Magazine resulting in a guest appearance on CNN’s The Point. She was also interviewed for an article appearing in the December 2002 issue of Psychology Today. Jennifer is a member of the National Perinatal Association, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Mental Health America, The Marcé Society, the National Association of Mothers’ Centers and Postpartum Support International. Jennifer is also now a member of the International Association for Women’s Mental Health.

Please contact Jennifer through her website or by emailing her at jennifer@jennifermoyer.com. Jennifer blogs at: www.jennifermoyer.com/blog

Walker would like to thank Jennifer Moyer, Nancy Byatt, D.O., MBA, and Julia Frank, MD, and the Listserv of the Marce Society for their assistance with this article.

Childbirth Education, Depression, Guest Posts, Infant Attachment, Maternal Mental Health, Newborns, Perinatal Mood Disorders, Postpartum Depression , , , , , , , ,

Support Needs of Mothers Who Experience Postpartum Psychosis and Their Partners: A Qualitative Research Review

July 31st, 2012 by avatar

This is part one of a two part series on the support needs of women who experience postpartum psychosis, and their partners and is written by regular contributor Walker Karraa.  Part two will run next week. – SM

Support Needs of Mothers Who Experience Postpartum Psychosis and Their Partners (Doucet, Letourneau, & Blackmore, 2012), is a study published in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecological & Neonatal Nursing (JOGNN) has offering new qualitative data regarding the support needs of mothers who experience postpartum psychosis (PP).

It is important to note that this is the first published study looking directly at the support needs, preferences, and access to support for women who have experienced PP and their partners, and the importance of qualitative research in deepening our understanding of maternal health.

Creative Commons Image: Pamela Machado

As you know, qualitative research attempts to make explicit the lived experience of a phenomenon. Rather than quantifying an objective symptom in empirical methods and deducing what an experience is through external measurements, qualitative research methods put the lived experience of the individual center stage, and develop inductive strategies for learning about the human experience. In this study, for example, the authors use semi-structured interviews from mothers and partners to find themes in the content that may suggest more effective prevention and treatment strategies. Listening to mothers and using their subjective experience of PP and the needs they had in recovery offered a quality of information (data) that traditional quantitative data does not, and could not—by the very nature of its design and purpose. We cannot measure motherhood. But we can learn to listen to motherhood through multiple perspectives in order to learn its meanings and mitigate our advocacy.

Postpartum Psychosis: Some Background               

Prevalence

Postpartum psychosis affects 1-2 women per 1,000 births globally, and while rare, it is an extremely severe postpartum mood disorder (Kendell, Chalmers, & Platz, 1987; Munk-Olsen, Laursen, Pedersen, Mors, & Mortensen, 2006). This most debilitating illness occurs in all cultures, affecting mothers across socioeconomic, ethnic, and religious communities (Kumar, 1994).

Symptoms

Symptoms of postpartum psychosis are sudden in onset, usually occurring within 48 hours to 2 weeks following birth. PP represents “psychiatric emergency and warrants hospitalization” (Beck & Driscoll, 2009, p. 47). If left untreated, some dire potential outcomes include:

  • 5% of women who experience PP commit suicide (Appleby, Mortensen, & Faragher, 1998; Knopps, 1993).
  • 2%-4% are at risk of harming their infants (Knopps, 1993; Spinelli, 2004).
  • PP has a 90% recurrence rate (Kendell et al., 1987).

According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA, 2000, p. 332), symptoms of PP include:delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, and grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior occurring within 4 weeks following childbirth, and that is not accounted for by other medical conditions, substance use, or mood disorders with psychotic features. Current research demonstrates that contrary to popular beliefs, PP is often the result of either bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder with psychotic features, and there is little frequency of PP caused by reactive psychosis or schizophrenia (McGorry & Connell, 1990).

Study Review

The goal of the recent JOGNN study Support Needs of Mothers Who Experience Postpartum Psychosis and Their Partners (Doucet, Letourneau, & Blackmore, 2012) was: “To explore the perceived support needs and preferences of women with postpartum psychosis and their partners” (p.236).  A multisite, exploratory, qualitative descriptive design was implemented using a purposive sample of nine mothers (Canada, n = 7, United States, n = 2) and eight fathers (Canada, n = 7, United States, n = 1). Data were collected through one-on-one, in-depth, semi-structured, interviews lasting 45-120 minutes. Partners were interviewed separately. All interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim, and then analyzed using inductive thematic analysis in six phases based on the methods of Braun and Clarke (2006), thematic content regarding support for mothers emerged in the categories of (a) support needs; (b) support preferences; (c) accessibility to support; and (d) barriers to support.

Mothers’ Support Needs

Instrumental, Informational, and Emotional

Doucet et al., (2012) concluded that “all mothers reported the need for instrumental, informational, emotional, and affirmational support” (p. 238. Bottom line, the mothers needed good information about their illness, good information about taking care of an infant, and physical in home assistance.

Generic support of parenting needs included information on caring for newborn, and physical assistance with house cleaning and infant care. Following hospitalization for PP, the majority of participants described wanting 24-hour support at home. Some wanted help with physical needs of meal preparation, bathing, and assistance with confusion, disorientation, memory loss. Help with night feeding, holding, etc. were significant, as one mother noted:

It was helpful having people come over and play with him and take care of him, and if I am in that manic state I can just carry on and get it out of my system. (p.239)

Mothers reported needing reassurance that the cause of their illness was biological, that they would recover:

The turning point was when I talked to someone who had gone through the exact same thing as me. The fact that she turned out okay and went on to have a happy good life with other kids was reassurance that I could get through this. (p. 238)

Women also wanted specific information on PP including:

  • treatment options
  • medication safety when breastfeeding
  • long term prognosis
  • risk of relapse with future pregnancies
  • community support

Mothers’ Support Preferences

Mothers wanted clinical information from professionals, and emotional, affirmational, and physical support from informal networks—such as peers, partners, and families.  There was a “strong preference” (p. 239) to receive physical help with baby from family, rather than formal sources such as in home nurses, etc.

All women wanted one-to-one, face-to-face support from a professional, at least once a week immediately after symptoms began. Once symptoms had improved, mothers reported preferring group support in face-to-face format, with mothers who had experienced postpartum mental health issues, and facilitated by someone with experience in PP, such as a professional, or a woman who had recovered from PP. They wanted to bring their babies to group sessions.

Access to Support

All mothers obtained access to a general psychiatric unit for immediate support with symptoms, but it is important to note they preferred a unit that specialized in postpartum mood disorders.

They felt they did not belong on a general unit, and did not receive specialized support. Most disturbingly, none of the women were able to see their infants, as is standard protocol in general psychiatric units, and found this extremely painful and hindered their recovery.

Barriers to Recovery

Barriers to recovery for the mothers in the study included the perception of health care providers as too clinical, uncaring, and having restricted their access to families. Isolation in the hospital, not seeing care provider, or feeling rushed in the appointment were also reported care-provider barriers. Family lack of knowledge about PP was reported as a barrier to recovery. One participant shared:

If my husband had a support group for new fathers to deal with a psychotic wife, it would have changed everything. He would have been far more compassionate had he known about my illness. He needed tools to deal with a mentally ill wife. (p. 241)

Finally, mothers in the study identified the lack of education regarding the differences between postpartum psychosis and other postpartum mood and anxiety disorders in family, peers and friends as a significant barrier to their own recovery. I think it is fair to offer considerations in approaching the topic so that together we will build a dialogue of difference, a conversation of consideration for how childbirth professionals process perinatal psychiatric illness, and learn to overcome fear through knowing.

In the next submission the findings from the fathers and partners will be reviewed, and considerations for childbirth professionals will be discussed.

References

Appleby, L., Mortensen, P., & Faragher, E. (1998). Suicide and other causes of mortality after post-partum psychiatric admission. British Journal of Psychiatry, 173, 209-211.

Beck, C. & Driscoll, J. (2006). Postpartum mood and anxiety disorders: A clinician’s guide. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3, 77-101. doi:10.191/1478088706qp063oa

Doucet, S., Letourneau, N., & Blackmore, E. R. (2012). Support needs of mothers who experience postpartum psychosis and their partners. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecological & Neonatal Nursing, 41(2), 236-245.

Kendell, R., Chalmers, J., & Platz, C. (1987). Epidemiology of puerperal psychosis. British Journal of Psychiatry, 150, 662-673.

Knopps, G. (1993). Postpartum mood disorders: A startling contrast to the joy of birth. Postgraduate Medicine, 93, 103-116.

Kumar, R. (1994). Postnatal mental illness: A transcultural perspective. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 29, 250-264. doi:10.1007/BF00802048

McGorry, P., & Connell, S. (1990). The nosology and prognosis of puerperal psychosis: A review. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 31, 519-534.

Munk-Olsen, T., Laursen, T., Pederson, C., Mors, O., & Mortensen, P. (2006). New parents and mental disorders: A population-based register study. Journal of the American Medical Association, 296(21), 2582-2589. doi:10.1001/jama.296.21.2582

Spinelli, M. (2004). Maternal infanticide associated with mental illness: Prevention and promise of saved lives. American Journal of Psychiatry, 161(9), 1548-1557.

About Walker Karraa

Regular contributor Walker Karraa is currently the President of PATTCh, an organization dedicated to the Prevention and Treatment of Traumatic Childbirth. Walker is a doctoral student at Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, a certified birth doula, freelance writer, and maternal mental health advocate.  She holds an MA degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University Seattle, and a BA and MFA degree in dance from UCLA.  Walker is a contributor to the Lamaze sites, www.givingbirthwithconfidence.org and www.scienceandsensibility.com.  She lives in Sherman Oaks, California with her husband, and two children.

Depression, Maternal Mental Health, Maternal Mortality, Maternal Mortality Rate, New Research, Perinatal Mood Disorders, Postpartum Depression, Postparum depression, Pregnancy Complications, Prenatal Illness, Uncategorized , , , , , , , , ,

Analyzing Information on the Web: The Best Postnatal Mental Health Websites

January 10th, 2012 by avatar

Later this month, Science & Sensibility contributors will share their hopes for the year 2012: what we would like to see accomplished in the ensuing months on behalf of mothers, babies and families, and the maternity care industry as a whole.  One of my hopes for the coming year(s) is that childbirth education organizations like Lamaze will increase their attention to issues revolving around maternal mental health; training birth professionals to screen, recognize, support and appropriately refer women with whom they work who may be suffering from one of the myriad perinatal mood disorders (PMDs)we now understand exists.

To that end, I’d like to share with you a study that recently crossed my desk (thank you, Walker Karraa) which assessed online resources pertaining to PMDs.  Donna Moore and Susan Ayers published their findings from A Review of Postnatal Mental Health Websites: Help for Healthcare Professionals and Patients in the Archives of Women’s Mental Health in November of last year.  The aim of the study was to conduct a systematic review on any and all current websites that maintain a primary purpose of discussing postnatal health with particular interest in the depth, breadth, quality and technological excellence of sites that specifically discuss postnatal mental health. 

 

Studies show that 10–15% of new mothers are diagnosed with postnatal mental illnesses, and potentially one in four women may have significant distress without meeting criteria for a disorder.” (Baker et al. 2009a, b;Czarnoka and Slade 2000)… However, there is now increasing evidence that anxiety disorders are also prevalent in between 3% and 43% of women in the postpartum period (Glasheen et al. 2009).”

The four major search engines were employed (Google, Bing, Ask Jeeves and Yahoo) and the top 25 results for each key word entered were then analyzed.

Disappointingly, the publication of results does not list all sites scrutinized (I would like to see what their search results generated) but the authors did list the top five websites, according to their criteria for excellence which included accuracy of information, available resources for mothers, and website (technical) quality:

Table 1
*Table 1 re-purposed directly from publication

 

The websites were examined for their quality of information and navigability based on the basic criteria list above, as well as by the following sub-categories:

1. Accuracy of Information
a. symptoms (of postnatal mood disorders…not only PPD but anxiety, psychosis and PTSD

b. risk factors (psychosocial, medical history and additional factors)
c. impact (of postnatal mood disorders upon the mother, infant and her partner/family)

2. Available Resources
a. self-help
b. tools for mothers
c.  support for mothers
d.  additional resources.

3. Website Quality
a. authority
b. contact ability
c. up-to-date
d. navigation
e. presentation
f. advertisements (appropriateness or lack there-of, distracting, misleading…)
g. accessibility

 

As concluded by the authors:

 

Information was often incomplete and tended to be about symptoms, predominantly depressive symptoms, such as tearfulness. Coverage of other symptoms of anxiety, puerperal psychosis or PTSD was minimal. This could reinforce the misconception that postnatal mental illness is solely depression or simply an extension of the ‘baby blues’.”

What type of information, as certifying organizations, are we providing our educators?  What kind of information are we, as childbirth educators, providing our clients?  Are we providing information that is accessible (understandable), readily available (are we not shying away from difficult-to-discuss topics) and high quality (evidence-based)?  Are we acknowledging that somewhere between ten and forty-three percent of the women we teach will end up suffering a postnatal mood disorder?  Are we discussing risk factors and approaches to late pregnancy and birth that might help them avoid this outcome?

 

Invitation for reader feedback:  How are YOU implementing postnatal (or perinatal) mood disorders into your curriculum?


Posted by:  Kimmelin Hull, PA, LCCE, FACCE

Childbirth Education, Perinatal Mood Disorders, PTSD , , , , , , , , , ,