29 April 2019

Staff Nurse and former patient smashes fundraising target for mother and baby mental health unit


A mother from Bath, who suffered Post-Partum Psychosis after the birth of her twins, has raised almost £1,000 for Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership (AWP) NHS Trust's New Horizon Mother and Baby Unit.

Rosita Edwards, who is a Staff Nurse at the Royal United Hospital in Bath, completed the Bath Half Marathon on Sunday 17 March, smashing her fundraising target of £750 and raising £985. The money will be used to support the work of the specialist inpatient service in Bristol which provides help to mothers struggling with a pre-existing mental health diagnosis or those that begin to struggle with their mental health in the postnatal period.

Following the birth of her daughters, Rosita became unwell with Postpartum Psychosis. After a brief stay at AWP's inpatient unit at Hillview Lodge, Rosita was transferred to the specialist care unit. At the unit Rosita was able to recover and focus on her mental health and wellbeing whilst being with her new born daughters, a factor she cites as being key in her recovery.

Rosita said: "Without this unit I would not have been able to recover with my twins at my side. I still got to be a mum for my new born babies while focusing on my recovery. It's an amazing concept which helped to boost my recovery and let me adapt to motherhood.

"The New Horizon unit doesn't feel like a hospital, it's spacious, friendly and doesn't have a clinical atmosphere," she said.

With the funds raised by Rosita, the unit will now be able to provide an additional activities programme to service users and their children, offering messy play, baby massage, craft evenings and film nights. The activity programme will give an additional layer of creative, fun and sociable activities that help services users in their recovery and build softer structure and routine in an inpatient setting.

The New Horizon Mother and Baby Unit offers a specialist inpatient service for women suffering from mental illness in the postnatal period, particularly when there are issues relating to attachment and when the mother's mental illness has an impact on her ability to care for her baby.

Ward Manager, Laura Nutt-Hunt, said: "Partners, parents and other family members often notice the signs and symptoms of Postpartum Psychosis, or a decline in mental wellbeing, long before the individual recognises them in herself.

"It's important to discuss any concerns or changes in mood and behaviour with your families maternity support worker.

"If you've struggled with your mental health previously, and in previous pregnancies, highlighting your history of mental ill health to your healthcare worker early on in your pregnancy will allow these needs and assessments to be part of your care plan."

Spotting the signs in others

Postnatal mental-ill health can develop gradually and it can be hard to recognise, some parents may avoid talking to family and friends about how they're feeling because they worry they'll be judged for not coping or not appearing happy.
Signs for partners, family and friends to look out for in new parents include:

• frequently crying for no obvious reason
• having difficulty bonding with their baby, looking after them only as a duty and not wanting to play with them
• withdrawing from contact with other people
• speaking negatively all of the time and claiming they're hopeless
• neglecting themselves, such as not washing or changing their clothes
• losing all sense of time, such as being unaware whether 10 minutes or 2 hours have passed
• losing their sense of humour
• constantly worrying that something is wrong with their baby, regardless of reassurance

During Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week (Monday 29th April to Sunday 5th May), the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership (AWP) is raising awareness of mental-ill health during pregnancy and after giving birth.

AWP, which provides services across Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES), Bristol, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire, Swindon and Wiltshire, has a Specialist Community Perinatal Mental Health Service (SCPNS) which provides advice and guidance to women who develop psychiatric disorders during pregnancy, those whose conditions predate pregnancy and women who develop postnatal depression after giving birth.

The service also provides advice and guidance for all health professionals to discuss cases, referral queries, medication advice in pregnancy and breastfeeding and signposting to other services.

Laura added: "Pregnancy and the first year after having a baby should be a special time for all family members, so it is important that mothers and pregnant women feel supported and can access the help they need. If you or your friends and family spot the signs and symptoms of mental-ill health speak to your GP or healthcare worker as soon as possible."

For more information about perinatal mental health visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/mental-health-problems-pregnant/


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