• STV
  • MySTV

New mothers describe terrifying toll of postpartum psychosis

The condition affects two in every 1000 women in the first two weeks after birth.

Postpartum: Both women needed urgent medical help.
Postpartum: Both women needed urgent medical help. STV

New mothers have told of the terrifying hallucinations and delusions they can suffer with postpartum psychosis.

The condition is believed to affect one to two in every thousand women shortly after they give birth but there are only two specialist mother and baby units in Scotland, in Livingston and Glasgow.

It has led to calls for more specialist units to be opened outwith the central belt.

While around 40% of women will suffer some form of postpartum depression, according to the NHS, the psychosis diagnosis is treated as a medical emergency.

Symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, manic mood and paranoia.

Catherine Carver from Edinburgh suffered from postpartum psychosis shortly after the birth of her daughter Bea.

She recalled the moment she realised there may have been an issue. 

"There was this big blue wall and I was watching these electric tigers bounce around," she says.

"There were roaring lions and the whole cast of Jumanji were cavorting on the wall.

"Part of me thought it was exhilarating to watch but another part of my mind started to question, could I really be seeing this? Or maybe the people around me were right and something was actually very wrong."

Ms Carver believed her daughter had been swapped by doctors - then became convinced they were trying to kidnap Bea.

While both facilities are in the central belt, the Scottish Government is refusing to expand the units across the country.

A spokesman said there are enough beds to cope with demand and it will only review an expansion if demand for access increased.

Ms Carver is a firm believer that she would not still be here today without the help of the unit and is campaigning for more units to be opened across the country so every woman has local access to help.

I was watching electric tigers bounce around.

There was roaring lions and the whole cast of Jumanji were cavorting on the wall.

Catherine Carver

Kirsten Hay from Dundee was also affected by postpartum psychosis following the birth of her son, Oscar.

Ms Hay tried to abort the pregnancy as she felt she was unable to support a child but when the medical procedure failed she decided to continue and was left feeling wracked with guilt.

"Voices would tell me that I was a disgusting parent and that I was so horrible," Ms Hay said.

"They would tell me that my baby didn't want me and didn't want me to be his mother.

"I felt he genuinely hated me - that he didn't want me to love him or hold him."

In both cases, the baby unit helped treat the mothers' mental illnesses and taught them how to bond with their child.

A wide range of professionals work in the units, including psychiatrists, mental health nurses and social works to ensure both parent and child are well cared for.

Remote locations mean those outwith the central belt find themselves having to travel hundreds of miles from home to get help.

Ms Carver wants to see every district able to provide these services, saying: "I'd really love to raise awareness and get every person that goes through it between mothers, families, siblings or anyone that goes through it or are affected by it, the help and the support that they need."

Download: The STV News app is Scotland's favourite and is available for iPhone from the App store and for Android from Google Play. Download it today and continue to enjoy STV News wherever you are.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. At least 6 characters please. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
At least 6 characters please
ShowHide
This field is required. At least 6 characters please.
You have to be 16 or over to join
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
Type your full postcode and select your address This field is required. It doesn't look like you've entered a valid postcode. Can't find your address? Confirm the details you've given us are correct by clicking here

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, including our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. Any issues contact us.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.