Action on Postpartum Psychosis
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12 months later feeling better but can I have another baby?

I feel a bit greedy. I have two healthy beautiful girls, but I want another baby. The only trouble is that I had terrible post partum psychosis/OCD. 1 month after my baby was born, I had a terrible impulse to drop her off the stairs for no explicable reason. I had no voices and no I wasn't on drugs. I loved my baby and couldn't understand why I felt that way. Then I began to get paranoid and suffer from major intrusive thoughts about harming my child. I couldn't look down the stair case. I had to be careful with her bath bc what if I drowned her. I threw away scissors bc what if I stabbed her. I was afraid of boiling water because what if I burned her. It got so bad I told my doctor and willingly went to a psychiatric unit for a few days, weaned my daughter off breastmilk, and started taking meds. I lived separately from my baby for 3 months, visiting my boyfriend and my older daughter every day or every other day and told my boyfriend not to trust me with my baby daughter. I was fine with the older one. I went to a support group 3 times a week, then weaned off that and went to individual therapy three times a week. I went on risperadol for antipsychotic but it wasn't until about 2 months after the whole start of it, when I started taking Zoloft, that the intrusive images lessened in intensity and severity. It's been 12 months since then, I live with my girls again and have been for about 12 months, I still take meds, I still go to therapy twice a month, but it's rare to have an intrusive image now and there's no intensity or impulse associated with it, it's just a passing thought that I dismiss. My baby and I are close despite what we went through. She had to have had it hard having only half a mother for a few months and to be weaned so suddenly. I'm 35 so I'm no young chicken with plenty of child bearing years left. My boyfriend has always wanted a son. I want to have the beautiful experience with a newborn that I mostly missed the last time around. I know breastfeeding is out of the question, I would still need to be on meds, and I can get therapy, but will all I went through come back? Is it selfish of me to want another baby if it could potentionally affect my mothering capabilities with all three children? My boyfriend says it would happen again. I don't know.

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Hi coffeemom2,

Thanks for sharing your experience and feelings about thinking of having another child. Your question is one that often pops up on the forum a fair bit - having another child after PP is a difficult decision in many ways, and a very personal one.

To share my experience, I did have another child after PP and got some good support in place, a care plan, different birth experience, quiet time at home, pre-emptive medication in a low dose on delivery. We also had a longer than planned gap between children as I wanted to be in the best "place" physically and mentally, off medication and as prepared as we ever would be! It's a really scary and anxious time in many ways, and I was lucky that I stayed well, and can remember those early days, weeks and months that are missing from my eldest child. But I knew I was high risk (50/50 or a little higher even) - and the main thought we had was that it had been treated successfully before and would be caught and treated, if needed, again - which luckily we didn't have to go through.

Do you have a perinatal team where you live? Are you still with mental health services and can ask for some support in this decision? I also wanted to share APP's Insider Guides with you, on this link: app-network.org/what-is-pp/... There is a Planning Pregnancy for women at risk, which provides some useful info for you too.

Only you and your partner will know what the right decision is for you - & you don't have to explain this to any wider family and friends that are involved, people always seem to have an opinion I find! I hope your partner is feeling confident, whatever your decision too. I always had it in mind that it wasn't just me, it was a lot about him - and of course our eldest child too. It's tough, but wishing you all the best with this and your continued recovery. Take care, xx

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I had ppp after my second daughter was born. For me, it took over 18 months to find balance again, and I couldn't handle the strong pharmaceutical I was prescribed. I took St. Johns wort and skullcap for about 6 weeks, and then it lifted and just went away = very strange. I chose to have no more - I found my offering balance and health to my 2 children was more important than to put us all in that profusely leaking boat again. Also, I was much more stressed trying to balance 2 kids, than when there was only one, which made me think that 3 was probably out of my range of ability -pp or not. It's okay not to have more kids, but at one time, I was somewhat drawn to the idea of another, because I wanted to make something right out of all that had gone wrong... But having so little control over the situation, made me think it was just better to do better for the 2 I have. Good luck in all things.

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