As a Public Health Nurse supporting new parents after the birth of their baby, I’m worried when I hear phrases like “I think someone is trying to take my baby; I just can’t settle down; I haven’t slept in 48 hours; my mother shakes my baby when she’s holding her; I’m a bad mother and don’t deserve this baby”.
Postpartum psychosis (PPP) is when a new parent:
- loses touch with reality
- starts to see, hear, and believe things that aren’t true
- may have thoughts of suicide and/or thoughts harming their baby
- behaviour is out of character
This usually happens within 72 hours to four weeks after birth. It’s rare, and happens in only 1 to 2 in every 1000 births.
Contact your doctor, visit the nearest emergency department or call 911 if you notice any of these signs.
Causes of PPP are not clear, risks may include:
- a history of bipolar disorder
- a family history of psychosis
- psychosis in an earlier pregnancy
- a traumatic birth or pregnancy
It’s important to:
- talk about your feelings
- not be ashamed or embarrassed to ask for help
- take help offered from your family and friends
Not recognizing and getting help for PPP can be very dangerous for both you and your baby. Postpartum psychosis is a medical emergency! Find out where to get immediate help in Toronto
Remember, PPP is temporary and responds very well to treatment. Those who experience it usually have a full recovery within 6 to 12 months with proper treatment and support.