Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Mood changes after childbirth and the PMDD link.

Morning ladies. First of all thank you to all those that reached out to me yesterday via this blog and via Twitter. I am delighted to tell you that I've made some very important contacts in this field, and I was even more delighted when I awoke this morning to see The Daily Mails headlines on the front pages concerning our failing maternity services..

For those of you across the various ponds, The Daily Mail is a leading newspaper in the UK, and the headlines could not please me more as a sufferer of both postnatal depression, and PMDD.

In the UK you can choose to have your baby in a hospital setting or at home and also there are now birthing units across the country which are midwife led. You can opt to have your baby where you wish, and as long as you have no complications of pregnancy, are encouraged to go home within 8 hours of giving birth. So here is my experience after the birth of my second child and why I feel so strongly about this particular article.

I was 36 years old and already had a 5 year old son, when I became pregnant once again. Unfortunately, I was already a single parent (no judgement please) but I simply couldn't face the prospect of having a termination of pregnancy, so I decided to keep the baby. Sadly, I was already suffering from emotional instability,but had not yet received a firm diagnoses, I thought I had a depressive illness, and had even been misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder at one point. In fact I'd been quite poorly since puberty and it  had escalated after the birth of my firstborn son, but still nobody could offer me a correct evaluation.

The birth itself was a text book delivery and I was blessed with another healthy and beautiful boy who is an absolute delight. It couldn't have been easier, and although I was alone, I just fell in love immediately. I gave birth at 8.20am, was transferred to the ward, and at 2.30pm the nurse came to the bed and said I could go home. Simple as that!

But in fact, it wasn't.

I remember thinking at that very moment, that I should have more time, and as I was going home to a very lively 5 year old, wondering how I would cope! I also was concerned as my notes clearly stated that I was already under the care of the mental health team and I was already  feeling exhausted and anxious. In hindsight, I should have spoken out and asked to stay in, but already the nurse was asking to change my bed ready for the next lady. This was all despite the ward being  empty. In fact ,nobody had been to check on me at all since the birth, which I found quite strange.

To cut a long story short, I was home by 3.30, sitting on the sofa, and bewildered to say the least.

Despite the fact that I was alone, the first few weeks passed in a haze of excitement as my mood accelerated alarmingly. First came the mania, then came the psychosis and then came the endless cycle of despair and anxiety every month. A reproductive mood disorder was now firmly in place, and for those of you that have read my book 'I blame the hormones', it couldn't have been more disastrous. Years of misery followed as I fought endlessly to literally stay alive.

This is why I am personally delighted to see The Daily Mails headlines today which state that new mothers are being sent home far to soon, despite the fact that they have complications, mental health difficulties and support issues. Out of 71 nations, we have the eighth shortest time span, which means fatal illnesses can be missed. Over the last decade 30 mothers and babies have died due to this statistic, and as a direct result of being pushed to go home far too early. Horrific and incomprehensible though it is, some women even go on to commit infanticide or to die by suicide, and this in itself needs urgent review.

The last generation of mothers had a stay in hospital, were encouraged to rest, and helped with breastfeeding and recuperation. Of course now we can go home if we so wish, and as long as the mother is well and confident, then that is ok too. But we need to be sure that that new mother is choosing to go home, wanting to go home, and are not  being pushed out prematurely. The world health organisation advises that all women should be encouraged to stay in hospital overnight which would enable rest, and allow the staff to pick up on any complications both emotional and physical. As we now know that mood disorders can be long term, with a relapse at every monthly cycle, it is imperative that each women is assessed accordingly. Needless to say, after the birth of my third child, I asked to stay in and did so for 5 nights, which incidentally was the best vacation I've ever had! I didn't get much sleep but I just lay on the bed with my baby and cherished that sacred time. I bonded completely, leaned heavily on the medical staff, and avoided the plummet into hormonal chaos as a result.

Now I know what I know now, and speaking to thousands of women across the world, I'm just so aware of how vulnerable us ladies can be,particularly after any reproductive event. As both post-natal disorders and mood disorders are on the increase, its time we accepted that we are all worthy of the best care and deserve and need it.That's why I am thanking the Daily Mail for this story and the necessary exposure.

I Blame the hormones can be purchased from Amazon and downloaded onto Kindle, Smartphone, I-Pad, tablet or any PC. Please let me know what you think, I'm always so grateful to hear from you!!

Blessings as always my lovely ladies! Suzi x

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