Mum diagnosed with postpartum psychosis after birth calls for NI's first Mother and Baby Unit
UTV News reporter Sara O'Kane hears 'Hannah's' harrowing experience of postpartum psychosis.
"You're going to kill your baby."
A County Down mum who was diagnosed with serious mental illness days after giving birth says she was haunted by "horrible thoughts" just days after giving birth.
Hannah, as she wants to be known, has asked UTV News to hide her identity so she can speak out about her harrowing experience of postpartum psychosis after the birth of her second child in February 2021.
"I just had these horrible thoughts, horrible dreams words in my ears saying 'your baby is going to die'. 'You are going to die'. 'You're going to kill your baby'."
Hannah, 36, says Northern Ireland needs a Mother and Baby Unit to better meet the needs fo woman who have suffered the severe mental illness.
Hannah experienced vivid hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, and even believed she had attempted to take her own life.
"Every one in my family was going to die," she recalled of her delusions. "I had a journal and I would be writing 'I need to ring such and such because they are going to die tomorrow'.
"I hallucinated my son was lying dead on floor of our bedroom."
Hannah was eventually admitted to a psychiatric ward for treatment away from her newborn.
Northern Ireland doesn't have a special Mother and Baby Unit and there are further calls for one to be set up following the tragic death of Orlaith Quinn.
The young mum took her own life at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast in 2018, just 48 hours after giving birth.
A coroner ruled Mrs Quinn, 33, was experiencing postpartum psychosis at the time of her death, despite medical professionals not viewing her as a suicide risk.
The inquest was told her death was 'foreseeable and preventable.'
In a statement last month, the Belfast Trust said: "Belfast Trust would like to extend a sincere and unreserved apology to the family of Mrs Orlaith Quinn. We know this continues to be an incredibly painful time and we offer our deepest sympathies to them."
"That could've been me," Hannah said of Mrs Quinn's tragic death. "Hands down that could've been me. I felt exactly the same way.
"I think the thoughts that are just so scary - you just want them to stop, it doesn't matter how. You just want them to stop."
Presently, women who manage to get a diagnosis in Northern Ireland are admitted to a psychiatric ward.
Liz Morrison, from the charity Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP), said: "Nothing has happened and it's just not good enough women are dying.
"A mother and baby unit would only need six to 10 beds. It would be a safe space. A psychiatric ward where mothers could go with their babies and get the appropriate care.
"The Health Committee went to Scotland and looked at a Mother and Baby Unit over a decade ago an came back and said we need one here. Nothing has happened. It's just not good enough. Women are dying."
In a statement, the Department of Health said: "Preliminary scoping work is currently underway for the establishment of a Mother and Baby Unit for the region.”
For more information on postpartum psychosis and on seeking help and advice visit APP here.
If you or someone you know needs help you can reach Mind on 0300 123 3393 or Samaritans on 116 123, or by emailing email@example.com.
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