APP's Campaigning for Mother and Baby Units

Our aim is to ensure all women affected by postpartum psychosis in the UK have access to a Mother and Baby Unit - essential places of care for new mums experiencing severe postnatal mental illness.

Our campaigning work is underpinned by research and strong partnerships between women and families who have experienced postpartum psychosis, specialist health professionals and academic experts. APP is proud to be a founder member of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance and work locally and nationally to support NHS service development.

Add your voice to our campaigning work - join the APP Network > 

What is a Mother and Baby Unit?

A Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) is a specialist inpatient treatment unit where mothers with mental illness are admitted with their babies.

MBUs include multidisciplinary teams of experts able to care for the physical and emotional needs of new mothers. They have specialist knowledge of the issues surrounding medication management in pregnancy and the postnatal period; specialist facilities appropriate for new mothers and babies; support breastfeeding, parenting skills; and bonding at this critical time in the developing mother-infant relationship. Access to a MBU is essential for women with postpartum psychosis. 

Our research shows that women who receive care for postpartum psychosis in MBUs feel more satisfied with the care they receive, feel safer, feel more confident in the knowledge of the staff, recover more quickly and feel more confident with their baby when they go home. 

Why do we urgently need more Mother and Baby Units in the UK?

APP has been campaigning for more Mother and Baby Units in the UK for over 10 years. Over the past 4 years, NHS England has invested in 4 new units, and far fewer women in England with postpartum psychosis are now separated from their baby during treatment. 

However, many parts of the UK do not have MBUs. Mums and babies are forced to travel miles for treatment or mums can end up on an adult psychiatric ward without their babies and without specialist care.

The first unit in South Wales opened in April 2021. But there’s still no Mother and Baby Unit for women in North Wales, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland or Northern Scotland.

APP is working hard to address this issue. 

We continue to campaign for more Mother and Baby Units - essential places of care for new mums experiencing severe mental illness and their babies. We must support the existence of current units, ensuring the public and policymakers understand and value these facilities. We must ensure that all units are as fully resourced as the new units, with excellent training, multidisciplinary professional teams, and access to peer support.

Our latest activity:

Read an article in The Independent by APP Director, Dr Jess Heron about why we need more MBUs >

Find out more about the opening of the new South Wales MBU and APP’s involvement >

You can see data from APP’s 2010 survey of 218 women admitted to a General Adult Psychiatric Ward or an MBU below.

In 2021 we will be conducting a survey of women admitted for inpatient treatment for postpartum psychosis between 2010 and 2020 and finalising our second report into the need for, and impact of, Mother and Baby Units. If you would like to complete the survey when it’s available, sign up to the APP Network > 

You can read APP media pieces here and follow us on social media on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

How you can help:

We would like to hear your story if you experienced postpartum psychosis in North Wales, Northern Ireland, or the North of Scotland. Please email us: app@app-network.org

We are collecting stories of women (and partners and grandparents) who did not receive care in an MBU. Please share your story with us - or if you have received care in both an MBU and General Unit. Please email us: app@app-network.org

Please sign the petition for Mother and Baby units in Northern Ireland developed by APP Regional Rep volunteer Oorlagh Quinn. Add your name to the petition here >

We are supporting the NSPCC Fight for a Fair Start campaign. You can find out more here >

Support our Miles for Mums and babies fundraising campaign. Please email us: fundraising@app-network.org

Add your voice to our campaigning work - join the APP Network >