What Can One Do to Prevent the Onset of PP in the First Place?

I'm new to mothering but not new to mental health issues. I'm due to have my first baby in January.

I'm fine at the moment and have been for a few years, but I used to suffer with Bipolar. The doctors tried every treatment on me, to no avail. But then, on a whim, I learned a new language, which expanded my mind, as well as opnening up an array of opportunities, and I ended up emigrating, falling in love and getting married, and even started finding work coming my way.

I've learned that the mind is a place where creativity and proactivity can blossom, and not a place for worry, regret, resentment and delusions. I really want to hold on to what I've got now, and am aware that my history could make me vunerable to PP.

It seems like you guys know this area inside out, so I'd like to ask you if there's anything you would have done if you'd known earlier what you know now.

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  • Hiya KatieKinklebum, you sound so happy and tuned that i think you really wont have any worries at all when your baby arrives! If you need any advice tho ,just ask someone who is hands on with advice and that has been good for you and made u feel good and confident in the past and present! Goodluck and just enjoy and relax and keep calm ! Okay ?? Kind regards Lavneder xx

  • I think lavender is right stay relaxed & enjoy!! Getting as much sleep as u can & allowing your husband / family to help you looking after the little one I think is also a good idea. Personally I think I had too many visitors too soon & tried to hard to please people so I'd consider limiting visitors in the early days to ensure you get plenty of rest & time to.bond as a new family unit. I also strongly recommend that if you're tired when you have visitors you let them know & go & have a sleep they will understand! The bit about advice is important, taking it from.positive people & not overloading yourself is key. I'm sure you'll be fine but if anything doesn't feel quite right speak to your doctor and/or midwife/healthvisitor right away & your husband. Enjoy being a mummy & don't put pressure on yourself xxx hope this helps.

  • Hi KatieKrinklebum (love the name!), I agree with everything Lavender123 & Kellbell have said, keeping calm & as stress free as possible is really important. Also not having visitors sounds like a great idea, I was bombarded with visitors from a few hours after the birth & it was v stressful! I think you're being very sensible in thinking about it & planning ahead of time. I think it's all about speaking to professionals, getting as much advice as possible & having a really good care plan in place.

    Have you seen this 'Guide for Women with Bipolar' available on the APP website APP Guides page? It contains all the information you should know. app-network.org/wp-content/...

    Also, there's a 'Pregnancy & Bipolar' podcast on the Books & Resources' page: app-network.org/what-is-pp/...

    I think you're doing all the right things in planning & getting lots of info, well done! If you've got any questions at all, we'll all be here so just ask. Try not to worry or focus on what might/might not happen though, just try to relax & enjoy. Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy & being a new mum, how exciting! x

  • If I knew that PP had even existed, it would have been helpful. Although I had no prior history of mental illness, I had a few early symptoms. If I had been educated that PP existed and what the symptoms were, I may have been able to get help sooner.

    If I knew then what I know now, I would work very closely with my medical professionals, have additional support beyond the first 6 weeks (my pp onset was at 8 weeks postpartum) such as a postpartum doula. I would have everything in place that I do now. Medical professional and therapist that I connect well with, proper medication, support from family and friends, strong faith, exercise and good nutrition.

    After recovering from PP, I would much later be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, postpartum onset. Sadly, it took 8 years after the onset of PP for a doctor to provide information to me about the connection of PP and bipolar disorder. I truly believe, if I would have gone on to have another baby (sadly it never happened), I would have had a successful outcome.

    I live in US, where there has been some progress on understanding PP but still much misunderstanding. I am thankful that I am able to share my experience in hopes of helping others.

    Thank you app-network for all you do and to the moms that help others by sharing their experiences.

  • Wow, thanks everybody for all the advice and support. And thanks Andrea for the links - I've had a read and a listen, and am feeling much better informed now.

    I'm lucky, because I came off medication ages before even thinking about getting pregnant. It seems like dependence on medication is actually a far bigger problem than the illness itself. But even so, I'll be taking extra special care of myself just in case.

    Great tip about visitors. I hadn't thought of that. I think I'll stay in hospital for as long as they'll let me (if it's nice - I haven't seen the place yet!) then I don't need to bother with housework, and when I get home, my mother-in-law will just have to turn a blind eye - she'll probabley be too captivated by the baby to notice the state of the place anyway. My experience has taught me that in-law visits are a million times less stressfull when they're casual visits, so I'll make sure also that they don't get officially invited for brunch or anything like that in the first few weeks at least.

    My Mum can be the douler, as she'll be coming to stay, and she's a dab hand at that sort of thing. We made a big fuss of her last time she came to stay, so it'll be her turn this time.

    And as far as sleeping goes, I'm an early bird while my husband's a night owl, so I'm thinking maybe I could do a deal with him where if the baby wants feeding late at night he could bring her to me so I don't need to get up. Might that work?

    I feel really glad to have you all looking out for me and sharing your experience. It's really moving to hear what you've been through, Jennifer especially you've braved some tough times. And it's wonderfully encouraging to hear that in the end you've all come to look at it in a positive light.

  • I think accepting that you're at risk is the biggest thing you can do to prevent an episode (I hope so). Make sure you're very sleep aware and that everyone around you is too. I would say that you shouldn't put any expectations or pressure on yourself about how you'd like your birth or early days to be. Don't pressure yourself about breast feeding either as taking sleeping tablets or medication may become more important. I hope I don't sound too negative as you're obviously in such a positive and healthy place. Good luck.

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