Early symptoms of PP: Evening ladies me... - Action on Postpar...

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Early symptoms of PP

KeiraMarie profile image

Evening ladies me again ☺️

Just wanted to ask & basically see if our symptoms we displayed during our espisodes of PP was similar..

What was you’re early warning signs something just ‘wasn’t right’ within yourself?

& how quick after delivery did you notice symptoms?

For me it was a few hrs after delivery I felt a ‘switch’ & I just knew I didn’t feel myself or how I did after I had my first son 5yrs previous.

I put how I was feeling down to the heavy drugs I had been given during my C section & presumed I would feel much more myself after a few hrs rest (although for the life of me my brain just wouldn’t switch off & allow me to rest)

I also thought that it was due to my Anaesthetist giving me the strong cocktail of medication & then I started to ‘blame’ him for why I was feeling the way I was, I was convinced he had gave me such high meds & that I was no longer the same woman who walked in to theatre a few short hrs ago, I was forever changed & I would no longer be me again.. this strong belief was very much true to myself.. & I made my family aware of that.. I kept saying over & over again ‘it’s Jamie’s fault’

Again I now look back on & believe this was where first symptoms of psychosis begun..

it then all transpired to me believing the midwives ‘had it in for me’ & didn’t like me, I thought they was checking up on me & felt very shifty in their presence..

again I now look back & believe PP was very much in motion..

Was this the same for any of you?

How soon after delivery did you notice you wasn’t feeling yourself?

& if so did you speak up on how you was feeling or ignore it in the hopes it would go away after a few hrs/days?

Xx

13 Replies

In 1995, I had my first child.. the start of things I am sure was in delivery a very long labour back bone to back bone.. I had opted for epidural... the nurse that did it seemed very slack couldn't get the cannula in my hand so blood was every where... she then had trouble with the epidural as my spine had very little space between the vertebrae, kept saying keep still as this can make you paralysed then kept telling me to wiggle my toes.. I was in shear panic but unable to move.. eventually it was done but know I suffered fear and frozen panic.....in and out of sleep during the night and early morning things started to get going... because of exhaustion and the epidural I didn't have the energy to push properly so incomes a dr with a vontouse , starts cutting me to insert it.. I hear the sound and start panicking.. the dr turns around to the midwife and says in a grumpy voice "she can't feel anything" so midwife shouts "she's not relaxed" she calms me down helps me to breathe and baby is born 8.10am.. I feel exhausted and am put on the ward... it is noisy, loads of visitors champagne being popped... I just want to sleep, 3 days I go home, feel numb struggling to feed , then I get a fever burning up, doctor comes says I have abscess in both breast... I stop feeding.. devastated ...such a bad mother as breast is best which had been drummed into me in antenatal classes..... from then things just went down hill... when my daughter was 11days old... I went to the psychiatric hospital

The anaesthetic drugs couldn've made that " switch " on top of extreme sleep deprivation and the dramatic drop in progesterone after giving birth ?

Rachel_at_APP profile image
Rachel_at_APPAdministrator in reply to lillyofthevalley37

Hi Lillyofthevalley37,

Research shows that PP normally begins in the first few days to weeks after childbirth.

More research is needed to fully understand the causes of PP as unfortunately we know little about the causes of it. Research points to biological, probably hormonal, factors related to pregnancy and childbirth but many other factors are likely to be involved.

You can read more research about the potential causes of PP via our website here: app-network.org/research/

I know in my own case, my symptoms of PP began very rapidly after the birth of my baby, and I do describe what happened as a bit like a switch being flicked as some of my symptoms were that instantaneous.

With best wishes, Rachel x

Hi Rachel yes indeed but I don't think that takes away from the possibility of anaesthetic drugs switching something that can be felt like KeiraMarie experienced it ? Best regards

HelenMW profile image
HelenMWVolunteer

Hello Keira Marie!

My labour was very traumatic as my waters were green when they broke and I understood that to be a sign that the baby was in distress. I was suddenly induced having been told I needed a c section. It was all very distressing. At one point I thought I had had the baby I was so confused.

I remember what I described as an out of body experience during my labour. I was given a lot of pethidine. On my subsequent labours my notes just said No Pethidine!!

I started to feel ‘high’ a few days after delivery. I had no sleep whatsoever, kept journaling and knew I needed food. I went home after 5 days and sort of exploded . My midwife recognised PP but my GP thought it was a water infection. I was eventually taken to A and E where the diagnosis of PP was delayed. I was becoming more and more unwell and eventually found myself sectioned at the psychiatric hospital. I have no memory whatsoever of the first few days there. I recovered 3 months later. My episode was in 1988 and as far as I understand there is so much more awareness now thank God than there was then!

Hello KeiraMarie! I started to feel very weird just 20 minutes after labour, i felt a partition in my head - as if i was out of my body, and i was listening to my own voice as if i was a stranger, and i couldn’t understand how i was able to talk to medical staff at the same time with thinking , and i felt like i was listening to my conversation to doctors from the side. Also i couldn’t get track of time - did i say it 5 minutes ago or an hour ago? i felt i was drifting away and very week…and sad… It was very strange and it was very difficult to explain to doctors.

I was examined by neurologist, who said that there is no obvious brain emergency like a stroke, and my GP and OB GYN said that it’s just stress and i will be better after i take some valerian root and get a proper sleep. But was in so much pain after labour so i never got that proper sleep the first night , and then the milk arrived very soon and i had to feed every two hours and i couldn’t sleep again.

And after a couple of days like that, i think day 2 or 3 , i suddenly became manic and euphoric and i already felt that i don’t want to sleep.

Actually i was in hospital 7 days after labour , and staff and family noticed i was not myself, but my GP and OB GYN mistake was that they all attributed my agitation to stress, new baby and prolactin, and they all hoped i could finally sleep and be better. and with all this misjudgment i was sectioned only day 17 , when PP was already full blown, and it was very difficult for mental health team to bring me back to reality since it took so many days for PP to unwind.

i wish it was different, but there is 0 awareness in my country

Hi KeiraMarie

What you describe was my EXACT story too! I was utterly convinced the birthing drugs had pushed me over the edge and I was on a quest to deliver this information to who ever would listen.

I was given every drug known to man as I had a traumatic birth and I began to feel ‘odd’ whilst drugs were being administered so I put two and two together and was convinced it was that.

And maybe it was?? My family were convinced it was a catalyst of things: drugs, birth trauma, blood loss, sleep deprivation and so I guess I’ll never know exactly what tipped me but maybe all of the above- and as Lilly mentioned, drop in progesterone is thought to play a part.

At the time it was very important to me to know WHY!!! I was convinced if I could find the trigger, I could cure myself so spent the best part of a year researching all I could to do with ‘birthing drugs and brain damage’

The worst part for me was whilst in the depths of PP, I was convinced I would NEVER get better and that I was stuck in hell for the rest of my life. This thought dominated for a while and I came so close to taking my life. My family got me through, love simply pulled me back from somewhere very very black.

I wish you all the best. Recovery for me was slow, I hated taking the medication such as anti depressants and anti psychotics, as I believed drugs had caused my episode, I was afraid to take more!! I’m pretty useless on medicines anyway so the first side effect I stopped taking them…. Looking back, this perhaps lengthened my illness. I turned to homeopathy which was the turning point for me.

Keep going. You will journey through and a journey it is. Seven years in I still marvel at what happened to me. It’s great to be well and enjoying life again. And as I approach 40, I long for another baby but I’m too fearful of the potential consequences…..

take care of you xx

EmiMum profile image
EmiMumVolunteer

Hi KeiraMarie,

In hindsight I think I was already showing some signs of high mood in the last weeks of pregnancy. On the one hand everyone remarked how calm and matter of fact I looked and anticipated the birth, while at the same time I secretly panicked when I saw a picture of my friend's newborn baby and thought I am going to have one of those in a few weeks time!

I also went into what I call my problem solving mode, which is like being on high alert all the time and keeping track of many things in my head.

At the time I thought nothing of it, I told myself, well this is probably my way of nesting - all these buzzwords you hear all the time that don't mean the same thing to everyone and are used so many times to brush off concerns from new mums, not by malice but by lack of awareness in most cases.

Lack of sleep in the hospital and not a good experience with the care in the post-natal ward amplified my disappointment to paranoia, similarly to your experience KeiraMarie.

When at home after 5 days in hospital I oscillated between moments of sadness, anger and elation, combined with a total lack of sleep and still feeling full of energy, it was extremely confusing. And when I started to talk about memory loss, confusion and delusions a few professionals still attributed it to sleep deprivation.

It is saddening that early warning signs are not picked up unless there is already a specialist team in place aware of the risks, and that clearly derives from a lack of knowledge and stigma. There are many health professionals aware of PP with no doubt, but they fear to mention those words to the mum or the partner. Hoping for the best and telling you to wait and see how you feel in a couple of days is not the "do no harm" path, it is a decision that could put someone at risk.

There has been a lot of emphasis in the past couple of years at how early intervention in all forms of psychosis reduces the recovery period and chances of relapse. And ppp being a form of psychosis that escalates so rapidly it needs closer attention.

Take care KeiraMarie, I hope that sharing and finding similar experiences to others is helpful to you

Mine was 6 days after the birth. Very similar to you, I began to feel like the midwives had it in for me and were bullying me, hearing voices and becoming extremely paranoid. It spiralled from there! I started getting severe auditory and visual hallucinations which got progressively worse over the next 24 hrs and lasted for weeks I think a combo of a long and tiring labour ending in c-section, feeding/pumping excessively as my baby girl had jaundice, no visitors allowed due to covid (my husband left 30 mins after she was born), no sleep in 6 days and dehydration (I couldn't keep any fluids down after taking pethidine), all led to it happening. Hope that helps. Sounds like we had similar paranoia. I thought the medical staff were conspiring against me. I hope you find some peace by sharing your story with others. It really helps to have this forum I think xx :)

Thanks so much for your post KeiraMarie - I found it so interesting reading about everyone’s experiences. It was really validating hearing a lot of similarities to others experiences and how I felt.

I too feel like the cocktail of drugs played a big part (I had to have an epidural to be induced and then a c-section 12 hours later). I felt seriously weird after the epidural and disconnected with my body- like I was intoxicated and not able to articulate myself and be involved in my care (which was in complete contrast to how I’d been up in till this point in my pregnancy). It all felt like I was laying there paralysed while people did stuff to me without explaining it properly or asking my permission. In hindsight I’ve wondered if that was the start of paranoia, but my partner felt like that was how I was treated too.

I found the c-section hard. My daughter had a known heart problem so was taken away by a paediatrician straight after birth and I’d only had a glimpse of her as they took her. Because of Covid restrictions my partner had to leave with baby and I was left in surgery alone feeling frightened while they finished. The recovery ward was really weird too - laying there completely naked while all these people were touching me and a bunch of doctors in the corner talking in jargon I didn’t understand about what they were going to do for my daughter. They eventually brought her in, let her have skin to skin quickly before taking her away to intensive care. They then wheeled me to the ward where they pretty much just put me in a room, turned off the light and told me they’d be back to check on me in the morning. I felt absolutely panicked and frozen, and couldn’t stop crying, but apparently I was presenting as very flat, teary and tired (so a huge disconnect in how I was feeling and how I was been perceived). The midwife on the ward finally gave in after I’d been crying for about three hours and helped me get in a wheel chair and go to intensive care and find out if my daughter was alright and get to hold her for the first time. I felt so relaxed after that and slept well for a couple of hours before been woken for morning rounds.

The next morning my daughters condition deteriorated rapidly and she was diagnosed postnatally with another heart condition, but this one was life threatening and touch and go. They operated when she was three-four days old after finally been able to stabilise her enough to perform the surgery. The operation was an absolute success (and she’s now an incredibly healthy one year old!).

But during those days I was experiencing the world very strangely. Every time after getting bad news (it was like a constantly evolving bad news story) my sense of time became warped - like it would stop and move so slowly, but also at times so quickly that I didn’t know what I’d been doing for the last hour except for staring into space. I was also experiencing dizziness, blurred vision, and the walls and floors were often moving like some sort of psychedelic music video. I was feeling really paranoid that things were been rushed and missed and that the midwives looking after me had no clue as to what was going on with my daughter in intensive care (I requested my medical notes and to be honest, I was right about that - they had absolutely no idea what her condition was).

No matter what I did I couldn’t seem to wind down, relax or sleep. I was like an agitated Jack in the box trying to take my mind off the current situation. I was feeling like such a failure and an emotional wreck that I didn’t tell my friends and family that baby had arrived and was sick - I couldn’t bear the thought of giving bad news and feeling the weight of other peoples reactions and emotions. so my partner fielded all the messages. Not speaking with family and friends was really out of character, but since my partner was not allowed to come into hospital to see me because of Covid, he was thankful for the distraction of telling everyone the news and didn’t think too much about how odd that was for me.

Over those first four days I repeatedly mentioned these seemingly random, unrelated symptoms to the doctors and midwifes as I was finding them unsettling - like it was a spiral that was compounding. They constantly reassured me they were all quite normal and expected - be it post-surgery delirium causing hallucinations, the drugs and surgery making me feel funny, the stress of the bad news causing the odd physical symptoms I was experiencing (as well as the sky high blood pressure and heart rate readings they kept getting). They put the suffocating sadness I was feeling down to baby blues, and they joked about ‘mom-somnia’ worry as the reason I couldn’t sleep.

I was discharged after baby’s surgery, spent a couple of sleepless nights at home while her condition was still critical and then roomed in with her in the high dependency unit and later paediatric heart ward. Again, still not sleeping, feeling like things were weird and surreal, and having poor perception of time.

I was no longer a patient when I went back to hospital and was left to perform all of baby’s cares. I was seven days postpartum at this stage and really struggling. The events to now had rocked my confidence, which mixed with first time mum nerves and inexperience, was making me anxious. My daughters doctors and nurses often commented in her notes that the ‘mother of child = anxious+++’. I was complaining to the doctors (including multiple psychiatrists who are available to speak to parents whose children have just had open heart surgery) that I couldn’t sleep, and was having trouble knowing if I was awake or dreaming I was so tired. I couldn’t determine what was real anymore. I also couldn’t take in any new information no matter how hard I tried.

I continued to deteriorate rapidly - it’s in my daughter medical notes that by 11 days postpartum I no longer knew what the year was, what city we were in, or what hospital I was in. I was complaining of hearing multiple conversations when there was only one person, or only me, in the room, as well as whispers in the corridors of the ward. I remember been convinced the nurses were spying on me because they thought I was incompetent and weird (that was a fair assessment of my behaviour tho, so I did have some insight that I was acting strangely). I also vividly remember writing my daughters name and date of birth, as well as my home address, on my forearm after a shower in case my phone went flat and I couldn’t look up that information when I was asked by medical staff. The anxiety I was experiencing due to confusion and memory loss was suffocating by now.

It astounds me in hindsight that even the psychiatrists were still putting it down to sleep deprivation and stress at this stage. My partner wasn’t seeing me because of Covid and kept thinking I was been uncharacteristically dramatic and was just overwhelmed and alone, and would feel better when I could get back home and relax with our baby.

It wasn’t until I stopped noticing and responding to my baby that my daughter’s nurses called the hospital’s on-call psychiatrist urgently - about 12 days postpartum. Those nurses really advocated for me but it was still a few days before they decided I was psychotic, and not just needing some sleep.

Anyway, I share such a long story to highlight how difficult it is to know what’s normal, what’s not, and how even health care professionals normalised PP symptoms.

For me, I’ll never know at what moment it did shift from sleep deprivation, stress and a normal response to trauma, to the starting symptoms of psychosis. I often wonder what caused what - For example if the sleep deprivation contributed to or partly caused the psychotic episode, or if sleep deprivation was just an early psychotic symptom. Im still struggling to accept I’ll never have an answer.

But I truely believe it was a bit of a perfect storm - all those drugs, surgery, a sick child, social isolation and lack of support because of covid, feeling vulnerable and out of control, immense stress and sleep deprivation, etc.

I really appreciated reading the stories from others - thank you

X

Ellie_at_APP profile image
Ellie_at_APPAdministrator in reply to LizzieLizzieLou

Hi Lizzie Lizzie Lou

Thanks so much for sharing your powerful story here, I hope it was therapeutic to write it out. I’m so sorry to hear about your traumatic birth and aspects of poor care you received, compounded by the situation with covid too. I really hope you are feeling a lot better.

Yes I have found it hard to pinpoint exactly why I might have got pp too but your description of a combination of factors, a perfect storm as you say, all rings true to my experience too.

Take care, and I’m glad you’ve found us and shared with us and I’m glad it’s been helpful to connect with others and share similar experiences here

Ellie

EmiMum profile image
EmiMumVolunteer in reply to LizzieLizzieLou

Hi LizzieLizzieLou,

Thank you for sharing your story. It reads from the heart. I read someplace that the onset of trauma is not down to the situation but the inability to do something to escape the situation. Not being consulted or involved, I can so much relate to that, and compounding that with your daughter's condition, lack of communication and isolation from your partner, it is the perfect storm as you describe.

It is a bit frustrating to feel that there is no clear cut answer as to the what and when. I am still accepting that pp was almost like a lottery for me, although a few factors put me more at risk, it could have still gone either way.

Take good care and I hope that talking about your experience and reading about similar ones from others has taken some weight off your chest.

Pikorua profile image
PikoruaVolunteer

Hello KeiraMarie,

I just keep it brief with regards to your question;

I must have known that I was declining rapidly. I started using post it notes everywhere, trying to remind myself of reality as I already drifted into hallucination from time to time in the first 2 weeks straight after birth.

Why do we suffer PPP??? In my case I believe it was genealogical. PTS was inflicted, because of unreasonable behaviour by hospital staff during treatment.

Take good care of yourself

x

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