Australian Research Gives Hopes For Mothers With Postpartum Psychosis

By Hannah Schenker

A new study into postpartum psychosis finds that women can recover fully with the right treatment.

The Australian study at the mother-baby unit of Helen Mayo House in South Australia, SBS reports, was conducted over five years. Researchers found that even mothers with the most severe forms of the serious psychiatric illness did recover, with the right medical intervention. In fact, every woman who took part in the research, who was admitted between 2012 and 2016 recovered fully. These women were able to recover and go on to care well for their children.

Post-partum psychosis is a rare and incredibly debilitating form of psychiatric illness in which the mother can completely lose touch with reality – suffering delusions and hallucinations. This puts her baby at risk and hospitilisation is nearly always required for the safety of both mother and child. If left untreated, mothers can potentially pose a physical risk to themselves and their children, so it’s important to recognise it and seek treatment as soon as possible.

A key component in the research was that separation between mother and child was avoided, says Dr Rebecca Hill from the Women’s and Children’s Health Network in Adelaide. The mothers received anti-psychotic medication, one-on-one care and some did require lithium – a powerful mood stabiliser.

“On the whole, mothers made a complete recovery and did so within weeks. The average length of stay was about three weeks,” Dr Hill told AAP.

The support they received had knock-on effects for the health of the baby too, with 77 per cent of women still breastfeeding at the time of discharge, says Dr Hill.

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