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Postpartum Mental Health Awareness: What do You Need to Know?

By Associate, Medical Negligence

Postpartum psychosis is a severe mental illness that causes women to have the symptoms of psychosis after having a baby. It affects between one and two in 1,000 women following childbirth. But what can mothers do when they take the brave step to seek help and the treatment they receive is substandard, leading to further complications?

I was moved by a recent article in The Guardian, which detailed the first-hand experience of a new mum who suffered postpartum psychosis following the birth of her son. I would recommend this article for any parent feeling they are alone or helpless; becoming a mother for the first time can be an overwhelming experience without parents suffering the “oblivion” of postpartum psychosis.

Previously in my blog series on the subject of postnatal mental health, I addressed the fact that thousands of mothers are not receiving adequate treatment, according to a study by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).


What Help Should Mothers Receive?

Women who need to be admitted to a mother and baby unit if they are clinically assessed as requiring admission by an expert should expect to be admitted in a timely manner.

Guidance for management of mental health issues during and after pregnancy is outlined by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). In a civil claim a healthcare provider would have to show good reason for departing from theses evidence-based guidelines.

I am currently instructed by the family of a young mother who suffered an avoidable and untimely death despite her efforts to seek the care and medical support that she needed.

I am currently instructed by the family of a young mother who suffered an avoidable and untimely death despite her efforts to seek the care and medical support that she needed.

Following suspected postpartum psychosis, Rachel Morgan sought help when her symptoms of paranoia, hallucinations and anxiety increased. An inquest revealed numerous failings in care by the professionals who had a duty to look after her wellbeing. You can read more about Rachel’s case here.

Rachel’s case is a tragic example of mental illness not being prioritised and treated with the same urgency she was entitled to expect.  It is a sad reminder that management of mental illness is often not viewed in the same way as physical injury.


Speak up And Share Your Experience

Jessica’s inspiring article highlights the importance of raising awareness of mental health. As with Prince Harry’s recent campaign, the message is simple, though your experience may not be: help is at hand.

It can take a lot of courage to speak out about mental health issues. Women who experience postpartum psychosis or depression may have no previous history of mental health concerns, and may be left feeling hopeless.If you or someone you know has been affected by postpartum psychosis, you can find more information on the Action on Postpartum Psychosis website

If you believe that you or a family member have not received the medical help that should have been provided, for a free consultation regarding a medical negligence compensation claim call us 24/7 on freephone 0800 916 9049 or contact us online and we will call you.

Zak Golombeck is an associate, specialising in medical negligence claims at Slater and Gordon in Manchester.


Clinical / Medical Negligence, Medical Negligence Claims, Clinical Negligence Claims