All posts by Emma Harvey

Postpartum Psychosis & Covid-19

This information has been updated, click here to read our latest information on Postpartum Psychosis and Covid-19

We know that pregnant women and new mothers have many questions about what will happen to their care and how they should access services during coronavirus outbreak. Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP) is trying to compile up-to-date information for pregnant women at high risk of PP; women and families in crisis or who think they are developing symptoms of psychosis; and for those recovering from PP.

This is a fast-moving situation and health trusts across England, Wales and Scotland are continuing to make changes to their services. APP will update this guide as information becomes available.

Pregnant women

(i.e. those who have had a previous PP or who have a bipolar disorder diagnosis):

You can find APP’s general resources on this topic here & here.

1. What will happen to my antenatal psychiatric appointments or preconception advice appointments?

  • In England, Scotland & Wales, there are plans in place for routine home visits and out-patient appointments to continue, but they will be done by telephone or video conferencing. We will add information from Northern Ireland when we have it.
  • Perinatal Psychiatrists say that birth planning for women at high risk of PP will in most cases be offered remotely but will still be thorough and comprehensive.

2. How do I get medication during this crisis?

  • In England, Scotland and Wales, medication plans for women known to be at high risk can be made with perinatal psychiatrists in advance to ensure there is plenty of time to get prescriptions filled.
  • Women who are remaining on Lithium throughout pregnancy will continue to need the same degree of medical vigilance. Antenatal care is still “open for business” and obstetrics/ maternity and perinatal mental health will work collaboratively to ensure the safest possible antenatal care remains uninterrupted.
  • In Scotland, medication prescribing remains with GPs on recommendation of mental health services.
  • You can phone your GP prescriptions line / psychiatric services and they can send prescriptions directly to your local pharmacy for collection. We will add more information here as we know more.

3. What impact does Covid-19 have on pregnancy, foetal development or risk of postnatal illness?

  • Our best knowledge to date is that Covid-19 doesn’t seem to cause problems with pregnancy or transmit to the foetus, so it is believed that having CV-19 is unlikely to impact on your baby’s development. Most pregnant women who develop the illness will experience mild or moderate cold or flu-like symptoms. Pregnant women with other health conditions should be extra cautious as they may be more unwell than other women. Pregnant women have been placed in the ‘vulnerable group’ as a precautionary measure as not enough is yet known about the virus. The Royal College of Midwives and The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have produced some excellent guidance for health professionals and women, which is being regularly updated here and here.
  • We do not yet know whether anxiety or stress due to the crisis will impact on rates of maternal mental illness. We know that managing stress in pregnancy and the postnatal period is important. You can find excellent advice from Mind about managing anxiety and isolation here and from the Mental Health Foundation here.
  • APP are here for you. If you are a pregnant women with previous experience of PP, you can talk to an APP peer supporter by visiting our forum or registering for email or video support here. We are looking at other services we can provide for women and families with our network of peer supporters and clinical experts during this anxious time.

 

Women and families in crisis or developing symptoms

You can find APP’s general resources about symptoms of postpartum psychosis here and getting help here. You can find more information on common early symptoms here. You can find APP information guides about PP for women and partners here.

1. If I develop symptoms of PP, how will assessment happen?

  • If you believe you are developing symptoms of postpartum psychosis (or your partner, family members is) you need to act urgently via the normal routes: telephone your GP, maternity services, or 111. If you believe you or someone in your household is in imminent danger, call 999. In most areas, urgent home visits are still being completed, but initial contact may be via video call (particularly if the person also has a cough or high temperature).
  • In Scotland, A&E mental health presentations are being diverted directly to mental health sites. Crisis/Out of Hours staff will work in assessment centres with extra resources, seeing people from A&E and other urgent referrals. Glasgow is currently looking to complete urgent referrals, where the specific team has capacity, at the assessment centres which are more likely to be set up for assessment of patients who may already be infected. Other areas of Scotland are likely to be making similar arrangements.

2. Are Mother & Baby Units staying open?

  • In England and Scotland MBUs will remain open and are doing an enormous amount of work to minimise any risk of infection on inpatient units (There are no units in Wales; Welsh admissions are normally transferred to MBUs in England.)

3. How are MBU’s managing coronavirus?

  • MBUs are following general NHS inpatient guidance on barrier nursing and staff will be using personal protection equipment (PPE) for patients with coronavirus symptoms. MBUs have set up isolation areas to care for women separately.
  • As we write, MBU visiting is still in place. Traditional visiting hours are not being restricted in order to avoid peak numbers. However, visitor numbers are being limited for any individual, restricting visitors to close family and no children. Units will have different advice for this – some units will restrict visits to one named family member per patient. We believe this advice may change today, and visiting in-person may be restricted.
  • Patients will be supported to use facetime and telephone video calling more. Peer Support, including that delivered by APP, will be available via video call.
  • NHS guidance on visiting during the coronavirus crisis can be found here.

 

During recovery

You can find APP’s general resources on recovery here.

1. How will I get medication? How will I be monitored and supported during recovery?

Urgent home visits will continue. Most route appointments will happen via video call. There is a possibility that other professionals will reduce their routine home visits but this is not entirely clear at the moment and this is an evolving situation.

2. How can I manage my anxiety, depression, isolation during recovery if home visits do not happen, and we are meant to be socially distancing?

UK wide, online resources and peer support will be incredibly important for recovering women. There is already a wide range of online resources and more are being produced each day. The links below contains further resources, recommended reading and support and will be added to.

3. Social distancing and isolation mean my usual family support, and especially grandparents, are not available. Where can we find help?

APP will continue our national peer support services throughout the outbreak. Our Forum is available for you to talk to other women and partners: www.app-network.org/peer-support/

We also offer one to one peer support for anyone in the UK, where you are paired with an APP coordinator with lived experience, or a volunteer peer supporter. We can give this one to one peer support via private messaging on the forum, or via video call. If you would like to access this support, email app@app-network.org.

 

Action on Postpartum Psychosis

Connect with APP via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and follow the news on our website to find out more about what APP can offer.

Links and more information/support:

For a list of England’s community teams go to: https://nhswebbeds.co.uk/community-team/list
For a list of Mother & Baby Units go to: https://nhswebbeds.co.uk

APP offer support for those affected by postpartum psychosis or at risk of PP, due to bipolar disorder. For telephone, email or Facebook support for postnatal depression and anxiety, see: https://www.pandasfoundation.org.uk/

For general advice about managing mental health, isolation and anxiety:

For advice specific to perinatal mental health during Coronavirus:

For more advice about Coronovirus:

 

Louise & Alfie complete the 5k Mental Elf run!

A big Thank You to Louise and Alfie who successfully completed the 5K Mental Elf run in Blackburn on Sunday 1st December! Louise and Alfie were running in support of APP and Ribblemere Mother & Baby Unit.

Louise said: "I really enjoyed it and Alfie did amazingly well, he was my motivation. We raised £220 to split between APP and the MBU."

It looks like a very cold day, so huge thanks to them both and to everyone who supported and donated via Louise's JustGiving page!

The Yellow Wallpaper concert - a great success!

Huge thanks to Anna McClure who hosted a fantastic concert on Friday 25th October at St Machar's Cathedral, Aberdeen, in aid of APP!

Developed by Aberdeen-based performance artist Angela Margaret and composer Anna McClure, the concert was partly based on the famous short story, 'The Yellow Wallpaper' written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman in 1892, which explores a woman’s struggle with Postpartum Psychosis. Anna composed a new and original piece for the concert, The Yellow Wallpaper for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, percussion and piano with a performance piece by artist, Angela Margaret. The concert also featured a short talk by APP's Sally Wilson!

Anna says: "The concert included a musical/ performance art version of 'The Yellow Wallpaper’ which was particularly powerful being preceded by a talk from Sally Wilson about her experience of PP, and the work that APP does.  We had a good sized audience for a lunchtime concert and hope to have raised awareness of PP and some money for APP to continue doing their excellent work. "

Huge thanks to Anna and to everyone involved!

 

Jenn completes the York Gunpowder Plot 10k!

Huge congratulations to Jenn, who successfully completed the York Gunpowder Plot 10k on Sunday 3rd November, in aid of APP!

Jenn said "All done! Muddy but fun! I am delighted with the amount I’ve raised, it should now be around £1000 including gift aid. I am really grateful to everyone who donated and especially to Jonny for running it with me and chatting to me all the way round!"

It looks like Jenn had a fantastic time, and has raised a huge amount in aid of APP,  just amazing! You can still donate to Jenn's JustGiving page here.

 

Thank you so much to Jenn for all her hard work and to everyone who so generously donated as well - we couldn't do this without your support.

Arnside Ladies' choir sang for APP!

A big Thank You to the Arnside Ladies' Choir who performed hits from the musicals on Friday 1st November, in aid of APP.

We're told it was a great success with the Village Hall packed, and with admission money and a raffle they managed to raise over £600 for APP, which is just fantastic! The event also featured a very moving reading from Jessica Pidsley's 'Mutha Courage' blog as well.

Huge thanks to the Arnside Ladies' Choir and to everyone who so generously donated - we couldn't do this without your support!

Our Fab Four complete the Royal Parks Half!

A very big Thank You and Congratulations to our 'Fab Four': Pete, Julie, Emma & Jessie, who completed this year's Royal Parks Half Marathon on Sunday 13th October!

All four of them completed the course, amongst all the mud, and have managed raise £1,300 between them, which is amazing, and it looks like they all had a fantastic time!

Pete said: "After a nightmare getting there with Green Park tube station being shut over safety fears and having to walking just over half a mile to Hyde Park, I managed to finish in 2hr 18 so I was well happy with that time. Thank you for letting me run for APP, it’s been a privilege"

You can still donate to Pete's JustGiving page here.

Julie said: "Today’s race was amazing, I loved it! And did it in 2h 35 which I am really happy about."

You can donate to Julie's Virgin Money Giving page here.

Jessie said: "Yeah! We did it! 🏅 Well done to all the other APP runners. Amazing atmosphere. So tired now!"

You can donate to Jessie's JustGiving page here.

Emma said: "I finished in 3 hours which for me is embarrassingly good! One of the other APP runners v kindly tapped me on the shoulder as she was running - was lovely to see. Thanks so much again, was a real honour to wear the APP vest."

You can donate to Emma's JustGiving page here.

And a final BIG THANK YOU to Pete, Julie, Emma and Jessie - you're all amazing and we couldn't do this with your support!

Kelly and Robert ran through the rain!

A very big Thank You to Kelly and Robert who battled through a huge downpour of rain to complete the 10K Forestry Race in Thetford Forest on 6th October, in aid of APP and the National Autistic Society and have  raised  £1,150 - amazing!

Kelly says: "The weather was terrible, more like a swim than a run at times but we did it and are both really proud. Honestly the photos don't quite do it justice as to how ridiculously wet it was...there were several near misses at the classic 'Vicar of Dibley' moment as there was more puddle than track for pretty much the entire 10KM course but despite that I got a real buzz out of doing the run.

We've far exceeded our expectations on the fundraising front and hopefully the update with the photos showing us dripping wet may help drum up a few more donations."

What amazing dedication from them both! Thank you so much!

Please support Kelly & Robert and donate what you can on their Virgin Money Giving page here.

Jenn is running the Gunpowder plot, York 10k!

Huge thanks to Jenn who is running the Gunpowder plot, York 10K on 3rd November, in aid of APP!

The York Gunpowder Plot 10km is a 2 lap route around York Knavesmire racecourse, overlooked by Terry's clock tower and the racecourse grandstands.

Jenn says: "I have nothing but the utmost respect for the strength that these women show as they battle to regain their sense of self as well as reconciling their roles as new mums. Recovery is hard, often unseen and rarely positively linear.

I cannot stress enough how in need we are for services and support to help those who experience serious trauma of this nature.

I'd like to think some small donation might help the charity to host events, bringing women together doing what they love such as music or art, or that it can promote awareness.
So, I hope you will consider donating and I will do another run in return, with my co-runner and PIC, JG. Thanks xx Jenn xx

 

Please donate and support Jenn's 10K via her JustGiving page here.

Thanks so much Jenn, we hope you have a fab event on 3rd November!

Calling women from Black Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds who have had PP


Lauren Walsh, Trainee Clinical Psychologist, Staffordshire University, is working with APP to conduct a a research study that is researching the experiences of women from Black Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds who have experienced Postpartum Psychosis. Lauren aims to recruit 8-10 women by December 2019.

The study would involve meeting with a researcher for a semi-structured interview for approximately 1 hour. You will be asked about your experience of Postpartum Psychosis, and particularly your experience of accessing care. You would need to be living in the UK to take part. You can also find out more via the poster here.

If you are from a non-White or mixed ethnic background, have experienced Postpartum Psychosis, and would like to take part or find out more about this study, please get in touch: app@app-network.org