"I finally feel like my ‘true self.’ I used to say ‘old self’ but I think that motherhood has really changed me. Having such a serious mental illness is bound to have changed me too."
On this page
- You and your toddler
- Looking after yourself
- Thinking about another pregnancy – or not
- Talking to toddlers about PP
You and your toddler
As your baby becomes a toddler, you may be feeling more like yourself. But you probably feel like a very different person to the one you were before you had a child.
Parenting a toddler can be hard work. Many women worry that tantrums and difficult behaviour are related to their PP. But tantrums are a normal part of development and many mums find this stage difficult (hence the term ‘terrible twos’).
Toddlers are energetic and independent. They begin to test their boundaries and find it difficult to manage their emotions. It might help to read some general parenting guidance about dealing with tantrums – for example this one from the NCT. Family Lives also has lots of information on managing toddler behaviour.
Looking after yourself
Coping with an energetic, independent toddler can be difficult. Looking after yourself is still very important. Have a look at our self-care suggestions.
"Some days are just ‘fail days’ where nothing goes right. I just try and say to myself ‘I’ll try again tomorrow’."
Thinking about another pregnancy – or not
You may be thinking about having another baby – or you may be purposely avoiding thinking about it. You might have decided against having more children.
APP’s leaflet Planning pregnancy: a guide for women at high risk of Postpartum Psychosis is helpful. It explains how you can reduce the risks of PP happening again and feel well prepared in case it does. We also have a page on planning pregnancy when you have an increased risk of PP.
Dr Ian Jones is happy to see women who have experienced postpartum psychosis or bipolar disorder and require advice regarding treatment or planning further pregnancies through the Cardiff University Psychiatry Service. Dr Arianna Di Florio has expertise in menopause and bipolar disorder and is happy to accept referrals from GPs or managing clinicians.
If you have decided not to have any more children, but sometimes find this hard, you might like to talk to other parents on our forum about your decision. You can also find other support groups online – for example, One and Done UK on Facebook.
"Once you've suffered from PP there's a high chance of it recurring with subsequent pregnancies. It's a very personal choice, but even if there was only a slight risk of going through that again, for us, it's just not worth it."
Talking to toddlers about PP
You may decide not to talk to your toddler about PP. Or you may talk openly and simply about what happened in the course of daily life. It may be helpful to build the experience into the family narrative at an early age using simple language and age-appropriate phrases rather than suddenly disclosing everything when your child is older.
Here are some approaches and phrases that other families have used with toddlers:
- Talk about it in a very simple way – for example:
- Mummy went to the hospital after you were born because she had a poorly brain. It took a few weeks, but the doctors helped her get better.
- Mummy’s head stopped working properly and the doctors had to help her get better.
- Mummy takes medicine to help her stay healthy.
- You can use stories to help. Sammy Bear’s Mummy is in Hospital is an NHS leaflet to read with children. You could use soft toys to talk about the story too. Ask your child whether the soft toys have any questions or worries.
- Be guided by their questions. For example, you could say ‘Do you want to know anything about it?’ and ‘If you have anything you are worried about, you can tell me about it’.
- Reassure them that mum loves them very much, even if she is not there right now. Help your child cope with missing someone.
- Make sure your child understands that it wasn’t their fault.
- Help them identify and understand their emotions. This information from the BBC and CBeebies might help.
"We talk about how mummy's medicine helps her stay healthy and about how Daddy and Nani took really good care of her while mummy was sick. She asked a few good questions and then went on with her day!"