Preconception counselling : So for... - Action on Postpar...

Action on Postpartum Psychosis
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Preconception counselling

So for those who have seen my posts before knew I had seen my gp about discussing my options for baby number 2.

I have had my referral through for preconception counselling (not till august)

The appointment is at my local hospital in the same block where I was sectioned. The ward I spent three horrendous weeks on and months later diagnosed with ptsd with an incident that happened on the ward.

In three years I have not been back to that part of the hospital and now my appointment is there. My anxiety levels are normally fairly low but even thinking about going there is making me feel sick.

God knows how I’ll be when I’m actually there.

Time to wise up on some grounding techniques again I think!

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Hi Rkmummy

I’m glad you’ve had an appointment through even if it’s a couple of months away, it’s great to access that early support.

It’s a tricky one revisiting places you associate with awful times and memories, and something I hadn’t really thought about when planning a second child. I was admitted to the postnatal ward in my local maternity unit and spent a night there when first fully psychotic before being transferred to the MBU and found going back to the unit really quite daunting when pregnant again (all my hospital antenatal appointments were in the same ward as it had all been moved around). I really appreciate your anxiety, it was only a night for me, whereas you had 3 awful weeks :(

Would you consider visiting the hospital before August perhaps?

Something I did near the end of my second pregnancy was visit the MBU I’d stayed in, at the suggestion of the MH nurse, to go there while well so I didn’t just have the negative associations of being there while really poorly. I was pretty anxious about it and went with my Dad in the end. I was really glad I did it and it did get me over any fear really of potentially ending up there again... I saw a couple of nurses I remembered and they showed me around, it was quite different to how I remembered it!

So just a thought really, that rather than wait until your appointment in August, when you don’t want the additional anxiety of it being your first time back there, to maybe go before then, with someone to support you? It is hard, smells in particular are so evocative aren’t they, but you could maybe get that first worst visit out of the way when you feel ready?

Take care.

Jenny x

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Going before August is actually a really good idea. I can make sure I can find the right part as well and take my husband for support.

Thank you!

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Hi rk mummy, I've had a couple of experiences of going back to both the maternity hospital where i became unwell and the general psych hospital where i was for 2 nights before MBU and i agree to try to go before appt as i find i got anxious about visiting but it gets easier with repeated exposure. Though to be fair not actually been inside the same ward on general psych hospital but had to use same entrance to get to my CBT sessions.

I even tried to get in to the postnatal ward one time when visiting the hospital about something else and a kind midwife did let me in. Think will need to try to go again as I'll have baby number 2 (due Nov) in the same wards as i was with baby 1 and where i got psychotic after being there 5 days.

Yes grounding sounds like a really good idea. I'm not sure if you've said already but are you receiving psychological support currently? CBT counselling has been helpful for me though I'll admit I've not been putting it into practise much lately when i know it'd help! I haven't been diagnosed with PTSD so i suppose there's an additional factor for you to take into account when planning as might be more distressing for you to return there than if not had PTSD.

Hope it goes well,

Hazello x

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Hi hazello

I had counselling for my ptsd a few years ago so currently not seeing anyone as I am fully recovered. It’s just the thought of going back to that part of the hospital brings back lots of memories.

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Hello Hazello,

sending you my love and kindness and wishing you all the best throughout your pregnancy. I have had no idea! Congratulations :-)

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Thank you Pikorua! Hope you're well xx

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Hello Rkmummy,

pleased to meet you on this forum, I can not remember talking to you before. Nevertheless, so happy that we all can talk and exchange about our lived experience. Peer supporting is a healer and takes away some of your worries.

I am not experienced with planning for a second pregnancy...I have had PPP in 2010 and unfortunately was sectioned to a Psychiatric Unit where I did not receive appropriate treatment.

Throughout my recovery, which was very difficult, I continuously struggled with fear and anxiety. For one year I was not able to look after myself and my partner was my carer.

On many occasions I received help via the Partnership in order to achieve little stepping stones. I do believe that some exposure has helped me to manage life a bit better.

I practised driving to particular places by meeting a support worker on the other end. I occassionally go into crowds, but know that I need a good rest the following day...Practising helps and gradual progression has been made i.e. shopping or being able to socialise.

The volunteering has helped me to grow in confidence as I had to get to know new environments and attend very occassionally some meetings. I still have to put support mechanisms into place and make sure a friend is on my side in case tasks appear to be rather difficult.

I was involved in an MBU project and with completion I went to see the new facilities. Even though the environment was nothing like my traumatising experience in the past, certain clinical aspects brought back some unpleasant memories....Flash Backs are quite a strange experience and I could talk through them with a friend whilst actually viewing the new built. Overall an amazing healing process, because I have contributed towards something pretty special where mums will be looked after accordingly and gain professional help via a humanistic approach..

I believe going to the facilities with your husband beforehand and/or put into writing your worries to the health professionals might help...I always have been honest and transparent about my fears and quite often my needs were accommodated.

Look after yourself,

x

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The experience of Ppp was truly horrible. But attitude, care, knowledge and awareness greatly improved. I had two babies after no relapse. You need a good perinatal consultant ideally, detailed care and medication plan. Lot of rest and help esp after baby is born. I had epidural as pain was a trigger. With all this risk is much lower i feel. Even possible to take meds during pregnancy if necessary.

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Hi Rkmummy, you have had some great shared experiences here. I just wanted to add my own, and say "me too" in terms of going back to the same area of hospital! When I had another child in 2013 after PP in 2009 when my eldest was born, I wasn't able to access any MH support locally, as there was no perinatal team. Whilst I did get to an MBU when unwell, it had since closed and I was also at the local psych ward beforehand, and had been sectioned. However I had very few memories of it, so when I eventually managed to see someone from the local CMHT, imagine it being at that same place...! Like you, I had really low anxiety levels (as low as they could be anyway) but the appt being there really threw me. I mainly remembered being sat in the horrible waiting room so when I went back, heavily pregnant and feeling tired and perhaps a bit vulnerable anyway, I felt sick with dread. I even ended up "walking the same route" to the general ward when I went up for the appointment - I must have looked a bit shaky as they checked I was OK with stairs (they must have thought it was "just" being heavily pregnant!!)

But I'm pleased to say that when I saw the psychiatrist, I was immediately put at ease. He looked at my file and straight away recognised how ill I'd been before - something I'd struggled somehow to get through to healthcare professionals I'd seen in pregnancy to date - and we put together a care plan, after doing some of this ourselves beforehand, thanks to info and peer support from APP. The psychiartrist said we could contact him any time we needed as he recognised how important it was to have support there if we had needed it (something that was difficult to get to, when I had had PP).

The end to all of this is that I remained well when I had my youngest and only saw the MH team a few times. With good planning (& perhaps good luck) I believe that we did all we could and happily I didn't become unwell again. Try and be kind to yourself - it's only natural that places can evoke memories and emotions. I also think that health services could perhaps be a bit more understanding of this at times and hold appointments where people feel safe and comfortable, and not putting them into stressful situations. In hindsight, I wish I had taken my husband or a friend with me to the appt - I had a social worker allocated from the team, who was nice but not great and had no idea about PP - but we couldn't organise it. I did try and get my husband (or a trusted friend/ family member) at other appointments too, in case I had needed it. And to be part of it all really, I know I couldn't have done it on my own (& I am usually a strong and independent person, there's something about the experience though that felt right to share with others).

The grounding techniques you mention will hopefully be helpful to you and it sounds like you have had some good tips and ideas shared here too. Having another baby after PP is a really personal decision and I know I'm grateful for both of my boys - plus my husband, friends & family for all their support. With new perinatal services throughout the country, hopefully things are getting better and you will be able to access good support locally. We are here to chat too if it helps, take care, xx

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Thank you for your reply, it’s nice to know others have done it second time around and had the support they needed.

I feel like I’m already being supported and I’m not even pregnant yet!

I’ve spoke to my boss today about the appointment (I have a very understanding boss who saw me go through everything when I had my daughter so understands why I need this appointment)

She has told me to take the full day off for the appointment as I probably won’t be in any fit state to work that day.

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Also me and my husband are going to visit the hospital block before my appointment just to prepare myself for my appointment

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