Seriously thinking about having a baby with my partner who is bipolar. Would appreciate any advice/info

Hi there,

I'm not sure if I'm posting this in the right place but to cut a long story short, I'm thinking about having a baby with my partner. We've been together for 3 years and perfect for each other. Our relationship is strong however the issue of babies has been coming up over the past few months. I know she would make a great Mother but to be honest, the fact that she has Bipolar is making me think twice about the issue. I came across this website earlier this evening and after reading bits on the info page, I'm not too sure. I'm more worried about my ability to cope should she become unwell especially straight after childbirth or in the first few years. I work full time and so would plan to take a 6 month Sabbatical from work when the baby is born. However long term, it's all about juggling work and child care when my partner relapses. Her family said they'd be very supportive should we decide to have a baby but maybe I'm a cynic as it's too easy for people to say I'll be there etc but when push comes to shove, would they? I've spoken to my partner about my fears and she is very understanding. Ideally I'm looking for someone to talk to who is actually in my situation and what advice/info they could offer. Also would anyone have any suggestions as to the best places for further information to help me make an informed decision.

Many thanks,


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8 Replies

  • Hi Damon

    Really glad you found this forum and thanks for being so honest in sharing your thoughts, hopes and worries with us. I can imagine some of the stories and experiences have made hard reading... However I'd also really encourage you to read some of the questions on second pregnancies - as for those of us who had a first episode PP 'out of the blue' I guess many of the decisions will be similar and a lot of positive stories have been shared.

    A good starting point is this guide written jointly by Bipolar UK and APP - it looks in detail at your options and it's really good that you have the opportunity to start this thinking process pre-conception.

    5 years after my first episode of PP myself and my husband did plan a second pregnancy. It was definitely with trepidation, but knowing in advance that my risks were higher (50-70%) really did help us to get good support during pregnancy. As your partner has a diagnosis of bipolar, she would definitely be entitled to specialist support during pregnancy. Depending on where you live, this may be through an obstetrician (often with input from community psychiatrist, sometimes also a specialist pharmacist) or specialist perinatal mental health service. Let me know if you have trouble finding out what's available locally to you and I can try and find out!

    Pregnancy and birth definitely are a vulnerable time for women with a diagnosis of bipolar, however the positives are knowing this in advance, having lines of communication open with midwives, obstetricians and the mental health team and knowing that things will be closely monitored. 6 months off sounds ideal really, and for your partner just knowing that she has this security could help a lot.

    Please do ask away if you have follow-up questions


  • Hi Damon,

    We weren't in exactly the same situation as you, because my diagnosis of BPD came after childbirth and PP; but similarly we are now living as parents and trying to manage with an ongoing mental illness.

    I think its good that you are both talking about the possible impact bipolar could have, but I dont believe it should be the reason for not having a baby together. Maybe if you could find out about what services are available nearby, should the need arise; that would help to put your mind at ease. Recognising PP and receiving treatment early (I believe) is the key to a positive outcome and if you can get support in place from professionals beforehand, they will be able to monitor her Bipolar more closely and act quickly IF necessary.

    I think its all about how open and honest you are as a couple too. I felt too ashamed, angry, guilty.....etc etc..... to admit how I felt, even to my other half and he has since said that he felt too scared to ask! If we had been more prepared beforehand, like you, I think we would have coped better in the early days and had fewer long term issues to deal with.

    You asked about 'family support' longer term. Again I think its having the knowledge beforehand. Once my family had a better understanding of my mental health they were able to support us 'differently'. On the surface it was still practical, but emotionally they could understand and react in a more constructive way and were less judgemental. We asked them to state what they would and wouldnt be prepared to do in terms of childcare so that any misunderstandings were avoided too.

    Sorry for the waffle

    Best wishes and good luck x

  • Hiya thanks both of you for your comments and the manual was really useful. It's a difficault situation though as although my partner gets on well with my family, they aren't up on the idea that we have a baby together purely because of her diagnosis. To be honest though I make my own decisions. My Dad told me that he would accept my decision and still give support if needed. We briefly discussed the issue with her community mental health team. She is under Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, Penge Community Mental Health Team on Croydon Road. They appeared supportive and stated that my partner will have a specialist midwife with a high degree of monitoring. However I would be grateful Naomi if you would know of any local support.

    My concerns are the following:

    a) I'm actually worried about how I'll cope to be honest and a little scared. Are there any partners who work full time while their other half is at home with little one? Would be great to get their views. Anyhow firstly I'm a bit concerned about the chance of relapse after the birth but I can manage that as long as there is support there. The main thing though is living with the uncertainty of what might happen when I'm back at work. For example I work full time but the responsibility rests with me when my partner relapses. The reality is that I may be at work so how would I be able to juggle her care, childcare and my full time job at that stressful time. As long as measures are in place, I could live with uncertainty. But still it is a hard one for me.

    b) My partner has a studio through the housing association so we are looking at up scaling to a 2 bedroom flat when the baby comes. However as it stands, the housing association stated that we have to live in the property for a year with our child before we can move. The associated stresses of living in a small space, coupled with the stress of uncertainty and negotiating where we will live combined with bringing up our child will be too much for my partner. Consequently we are trying to get the housing situation in place first although it's a bit of a catch 22 as it seems no one will do anything until the baby is born. We are getting support with the housing from the mental health team but to be honest they aren't very good. All they have suggested so far is for us to write to our MP. They seem to be lacking in advocacy, I wouldn't have a problem with private renting but I earn approx. 21k a year and on this salary we could not afford to take this route I think.

    c) My partner's side of the family, particularly her mum said she'll support us. But it's very easy for people to say that in the heat of the moment. In a situation like this I feel it's really important to focus on the practical aspects and ensure all the measures are in place. There hasn't been much talk from her side as to what kind of support she'll help with, To be honest, it's our responsibility to raise the issue and have a good long discussion which we will do.

    It seems I'm so confused about the whole thing to be honest. Pros, cons, what ifs, postives, negatives, etc. To be honest everything seems against us and I feel like giving up sometimes although I'm not going to, I'd appreciate any pointers any of you may have.

    Thanks! :-)

  • Hi Damon

    Have done a bit of research on your NHS Trust and found that there is a specialist midwifery team called 'Best Beginnings' and also a multidisciplinary team for women with high risks during pregnancy called the 'Time Team'. This team has input from psychiatrists and community psychiatric nurses. The key contact in 2011 was Nigel Perks, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist but the service doesn't seem to have its own website I can direct you to. It might be worth asking your partner's CMHT if they can do a little digging as some liaison services are very happy to see people pre-conception to talk all these things through.

    I'll try to say a little bit about each of your 3 concerns above

    a) I wondered how you have managed relapses up until now with your work? Have you had to take any time off and is your employer supportive? If you do have a good relationship with your employer/HR department you may be able to come up with some contingency plans for the future if you do have a baby and things get difficult.

    b) You are right, housing is a huge issue in terms of stress. It might sound odd, but considering delaying a house move until the baby is 6-12 months old might be worth thinking about? This could potentially remove some of the uncertainty, and give you a chance to see how your partner's wellbeing is going before the upheaval of a house move. It's recommended that your baby shares your room for 6 months so it could give you a little breathing space until you really need that second bedroom? However if you feel moving first would be much more preferable, you could look into some advocacy outside the CMHT. Try the Mind website for lists of independent mental health advocates.

    c) Some families are great at emotional support, some find it much easier to help out in a practical way e.g. housework, laundry and making casseroles! It sounds a great idea just to have a very honest discussion with both your families about what support they could offer, and what would help you both best. The charity HomeStart are also a really great organisation who can provide a few hours a week of volunteers who are usually also parents too, just to come and do befriending or helping with housework, or taking your partner and baby out to a baby group when you have gone back to work.

    Hope this helps and well done for considering all these things. For any new parents, however, stepping into the uncharted territory of having a baby is something that you cannot fully prepare for beforehand. I know this comes with much more complexity for you and your partner, being so aware of the potential risks of illness, and it will feel even more like a 'leap of faith' - so doing what you're doing and really giving yourselves space to think is great.


  • Hi. Have a look at this website as well as Mind. If you type in your postcode it will tell you what services are available in your area. They offer advocacy, support for carers and also help with housing etc.

  • Hi Damon,

    you've already received some pretty sound advice on here but I just wanted to add that IF your partner did develop PP and PND (which is not certain), my understanding is that you will have seen the worse of it by the time you go back to work 6 months after the birth.

    If I had known I was at risk of getting PP and my partner had been able to take 6 months off work to support me, I think that would have been plenty.

    Good luck


  • Hi Damon,

    Some really good advice given above, not much I can add really and it's such a personal decision you and your partner have to make. Having children at the best of times is life changing and I can understand the worry when you add the possibility of pp into the mix! however the good thing is that you know about the risk and if you both decide to go ahead then a number of supports/monitoring can be put in place.

    As you already seem to be doing, I think it's key to talk and discuss openly with your families, so that they understand the risks clearly, which can then lead onto what support they feel they would be willing/able to offer; of course, there is always the chance that she won't get pp.

    My wife got pp out of the blue and I spent a couple of weeks frantically trying to understand what was going on, then in the coming weeks scared of what would happen, how to treat it, MBU's etc.

    So I think you are both doing a great job in being open, studying the resources and understanding what support is out there.

    Whatever decision you both come to, all the best :-)

  • The best advice I can give is to find a provider that has expertise in mental health related to childbearing. No one should be told that they can not have a baby, if they are bipolar. It is an individual decision. Just know PP can be prevented with the proper preventative treatment plan. If you are interested, here is a link to a blog I wrote on preventing postpartum psychosis:

    Another post is on bipolar disorder and pregnancy:

    Wishing you the best in making an informed decision.

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