Whats best to support my partner in the M&BU - I want to help more

My partner and wee man is currently in a M&BU. The community midwives were excellent and identified the PPS on day 4. We are just over week five and she is currently receiving ECT (4 so far) as olanzipine was not having required effect. I think she is getting better and I'm there everyday (have an understanding and generous employer) and we have just had a few home visits. She still has some delusional/irrational thoughts about babys safety which I reassure her will pass. I want to do more to support and would appreciate any experieinces and advice from anyone who has been through a similar scenario. The ward staff are great but I have hesitations about further ECT which is scheduled for next week. I do a lot of talking with her and just want help on anything else I could be doing

10 Replies

  • Hello RG2014,

    I was in a MBU for a month but didn't have ECT so I can't advise on that though others will be able to. There have been some great threads recently around partner support which I'm sure will be very helpful.

    For me, visiting hours were 4-8 and my husband was there every day. I spent the day counting down the hours, seeing him was like a reward. The staff would hand over the care of our son to him so I didn't have to have someone with me and could finally just relax a little and enjoy time with my little family. So I'm sure the simple fact you are there is so important. Consistent reassurance that she will get better, and is getting better, which it sounds like you are doing, and I appreciated any words that tried to boost my confidence as a mum - how well I was doing at the care aspects, how he clearly knew I was his mum... This all helped me in times of intense confusion, even if I didn't believe it at the time. It's great that you're talking lots, answer the questions you can, try to be constant in what you're telling her (I overthought and analysed everything so would pounce on anything that sounded new or different to what had been said before). Try and do 'normal' things, eat meals together at meal times, talk about home and friends, anything to reinforce that real reality.

    Home visits were a real turning point for me, hopefully that is helping your partner too. It sounds like you are doing all the right things, it will get better. Take care of yourself too, I'm sure you'll get lots of good advice from others here.

    All the very best, J x

  • It looks like you're doing an amazing job already. I think being with her as much as you can would be a huge support, even if she doesn't always show it. Knowing that you're supporting her and behind her is crucial to her not feeling worse about herself.

    It must be incredibly overwhelming for you being hit with this but it looks like you have a good team around you.

    How many ect treatments have they had in mind for her? I had six in total and for me it was the right amount. I was so much better after four but they did the further two to make sure it maintained itself. After my first ect treatment I was still bad but at least I was talking a bit which I had stopped doing before treatment. After my second I was better for a day then went bad again for the next couple of days. I was again better after my third treatment but then went a little backward again but never as bad as the start. It was after th fourth where I really felt so much better and after six my wellness was maintained. ECT was the best thing for me because even though it is an aggressive treatment compared to others, with pps and how servers it can be, it is best to treat it fast I believe so that everyone can try get back to normality again. I am so glad she is in a mother baby unit.

    Wishing you all the best, just keep doing what you're doing. Keep reassuring her that she will get better and that you'll be there for her no matter what and through it all.

  • You're obviously doing well already. Just a couple of suggestions...

    A diary of medications, treatments and observed outcomes could be very useful later. Don't assume that medical staff will have access to detailed medical records.

    Look after yourself. Give yourself some time and seek help if you need it. People are usually much more willing to help than we are to ask for it.

    All the best,


  • Hi, I would say keeping a diary/journal of the things that are happening, and the babies key developmental stages, and the story of how she got hospitalised will really help, a sort of time line, because often it can be hard/embarassing to ask about the holes women have in their memories, so having something you can give her, that she can work through in her own time, will be really valuable.

    Totally second a record of the treatment too, it's amazing what gets "lost" at handovers!

    Spend some time recharging your batteries, doing something that you enjoy, so you can relax. It's not selfish to look after yourself and allow yourself some R&R.

    Afterwards, being open about the belief that she will continue to get better, and congratulating her on little indicators of progress really helps. Be available for her to talk to you, as it is common to continue being afraid of going crazy again. Perhaps be prepared to discuss what you as a couple will do if she is slipping. Having it out in the open will dispel fears a lot and help her to go along with any plans you have about getting help. And just be clear for both of you that the mind, under massive stress will play tricks on perception. She is still at heart the same person you love. It just sometimes takes time for her and you to reconnect with that person, and for that person to reemerge after a mental trauma like this. I for one after significant bipolar episodes, which are similar really felt that the last straw had broken the camels back and that I would never again be myself. I continue to find bits of myself that I thought were long gone, and it is a joy to rediscover them. It is very frightening to think you have lost what makes "you" who you are. Reassurance that she has all the skills in her, or can learn them, will help. Steering her away from Black and White disaster thinking will help too, and treat her recovery a bit like it is a science project that requires experimentation and then when something doesn't work out, ok, it's back to the drawing board to work out the alternatives, but not the end of the world.

    Finally when she comes out, help her maintain protected time for sleep and rest (it can still fit around feeding the baby when needed). She may have sleep problems, and I personally have found that avoiding buzzing about the place ironing, cleaning, anything active really helps. I keep night times as designated restful times, so the lights stay dim, if I do get up, to read. I avoid internet, and any other stimuli, which means I am more likely to fall asleep, or at least rest quietly, without sleeping, which still does me good too. Sometimes it is a struggle to maintain, but I now know it is really good for me!

    You are amazing and clearly doing really well. Remember to look after yourself, and rest up as much as you can, so you can really support her when she and your son come home. :)

  • Thanks for all the replies - its reassuring to know that others have been through similar times and things will get better (this site is brilliant as a source of actual experieinces). She is responding well to ECT but her mood is still crashing a day or two afterwards (today was quite bad) so we're going ahead with another 1 or 2 and will then dicuss again with the consultants. Its a bit of a fine line between getting her out and about and home and not over stressing/stimulating her. Sure we'll find the balance tho. Suggestions for the diary and timeline are great ideas as while things are clear in my mind now I'm sure it will fade as the weeks progress (we also live in a different NHS area from the M&BU so agree notes might go astray in handovers). From day 1 I've asked her to be fully open and honest about her thoughts and feelings and think that is helping (as difficult as it can be to hear) but lots of reassurance and hugs seem to be working.

  • Hello RG2014

    Congratulations on the birth of your son. I'm so glad your partner is receiving excellent care. I would just like to add to the good advice and comments already here.

    I received general psychiatric care and had two courses of ECT, probably six sessions each, in the mid-70's and early 80's following the births of my two sons, six years apart. I think it was the best treatment for me at the time; a last resort as I had not responded to other interventions. I was sectioned and so not really aware of what was happening, not communicating with anyone until about my fourth treatment. Eventually I was allowed home at weekends, building my confidence to return to the 'real world' and caring for my family.

    It is still very early days for your partner and she is doing so well with your support. Please reassure her that with further medical care the delusions will fade in time. I can understand that you are hesitant about future ECT sessions but her care team only have her best interests at heart.

    As others have said, please take care of yourself and rest when you can.

  • Hi RG2014

    It must have been an incredibly tough and shocking past five weeks for you. I'm so glad your wife has been able to be cared for in a MBU and really glad your employer has given you the leave to be able to visit everyday.

    Just a couple of practical ideas to add to the great advice you've already had. Lots of mums tell us that they miss having photos and records of those first few weeks so putting a little scrapbook together with as many photos as you can, maybe gift tags you've received or cards can be something very precious for you both when your wife is home and into the next stage of recovery. There's often a sense of grief over what was missed, and how different from your expectations the newborn stage has been and so putting something together to say 'look how well we did - despite it all - and look at all the love from our friends and family' can be really helpful.

    Secondly just using your leave periods, once they are increasing, to do some real 'treat' things with your wife and baby. Have you been able to get out to a proper coffee shop together or taken a walk through a park with the buggy? Those moments of normality amidst the clinical environment of hospital and the also very clinical experience of ECT can be a lifeline (I had 10 sessions back in 2012 and I can remember that simple human touches like a homemade sandwich afterwards were really comforting. I remember driving back from ECT looking out at Waitrose cafe and my husband saying 'it won't be long til we can pop in there again'.)

    It sounds like you are doing a brilliant job - lots of dads on the forum have walked this path too and can reassure you that your wife is getting the best care in the MBU and, although it can be a long journey, she will recover.

    Take good care


  • Thanks again for all the replies. Into week 7 now. We’ve stopped the ECT this week and mood seems to be stabilising if not improving (think the antidepressants are taking full effect). Day trips home are working well and planning an overnight stay soon. I’ve been taking loads of photos from day 1 to keep a log of events. I was (and am still) very hesitant about ECT but it seems to have worked. I think the side effect of short term memory loss is potentially the reason it works so well with Postpartum Psychosis but that it just my opinion. With ECT there is a lack of scientific data to understand long term effects but from what I read those who chose it and found it helpful have a distinctly different experience from those who didn’t choose to have it (perhaps due to being sectioned). Anyway, things seem good at the moment and thanks for all the help and advice.

  • Hi RG2014

    It's really good to hear your update. Thanks for taking the time to post. It certainly sounds that things are moving in a positive direction and it's great that you have an overnight leave coming up soon.

    As your wife will be spending more time at home I thought you might find the APP recovery guide useful. It has lots of tips from families about the transition from hospital to home. You can download it here:


    Can completely understand your feelings about ECT. It's a very hard thing to submit yourself or your partner to a treatment that seems to work but the scientific community still don't know why. I had ECT for severe depression and I feel at that point it was almost just out of a sense of being so desperate to get well after a number of unsuccessful antid's. It was clinical but very compassionate and not as scary as I had feared. I think it was a pretty awful thing for my husband who would wait with me and be with me in the tearful bit in the recovery room. Have you been able to accompany your wife? I'm glad to hear you feel now your wife's antid is kicking in.

    Here any time you need to chat


  • Hello RG2014

    It's good to hear how things are slowly improving for your partner and day trips home are working well.

    I'm sure you are still hesitant about your partner having further ECT. As I mentioned before, I was sectioned so had very little knowledge of what was happening. However, it did work for me and eventually I recovered and was fortunate to regain my dignity and place. I haven't delved into any scientific data regarding long term effects although I can understand your wish to protect your partner from harm. I am just relieved that I have been around to watch my sons grow into the very caring young men they are today.

    Take care of yourself. It's not an easy journey but your partner will be well eventually and you are a great support.

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