Mum travelled England for postpartum support as Wales' only mother and baby unit is 140 miles away

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A mother from Denbigh has started a petition calling for a mother and baby unit to be opened in North Wales, after she was forced to travel to England to seek support.

Nia Foulkes suffered postpartum depression and psychosis after the birth of her son, Gwilym.

Currently, there is only one Mother and baby unit in Wales, in Swansea - some 140 miles away from Denbigh - therefore Nia was forced to travel to Manchester to get support.

She believes it took her longer to recover because she didn't have her support network close to home.

Nia suffered from postpartum psychosis, which is a serious mental health illness that can affect someone soon after having a baby. Credit: ITV Wales

As a result of her experience, she has started a petition calling for a mother and baby unit to be opened in North Wales to help other mums in her position.

Nia said that even though travelling to Manchester was a long journey, it could have been a lot worse.

She said: "I was lucky that Manchester was available but there was talk of Edinburgh or Birmingham. If I'd ended up in Edinburgh it would have been awful really, so at least Manchester was closer but still, it's a journey, isn't it."

Nia suffered from postpartum psychosis, which is a serious mental health illness that can affect someone soon after having a baby.

"It's postpartum psychosis I had, so it's quite sever where I have no memory of it to be honest. I remember the birth and everything like that, but from there I just woke up in Manchester.

"I remembered I'd had a baby, it wasn't a case that I'd forgotten everything, but the waking up in Manchester was daunting really."

Though Nia can speak English, her first language is Welsh, so the fact that she was unable to speak or be spoken to in her first language, made her experience more challenging.

She explained: "When I've been unwell, in the past it's happened, and I just want to speak Welsh and for the Doctors to try and understand me. It's really important for you to be able to speak your own language when you're in crisis and in such a bad way."

Nia is better now and has a close bond with her son who is now two-years-old, but feels there is a need to help others and make a difference.

She said: "I just realised afterwards, as I recovered, as I got home, and then say a year after I thought, this is wrong. I'm going to try and make a difference for families who go through this.

"There's a big need for it and that was my reasoning for starting this petition."

Nia's petition has received praise and support from many. She added: "I've had lots of support and people reaching out who've been through it, it's been an amazing response."

She believes the unit is much more than just a maternity unit, "It's much more than that."

"I think it's somewhere you feel secure and safe, I think you need to be somewhere you feel comfortable and it is an amazing place to be recovering in and the service in Manchester was outstanding."

Uned Gobaith (‘Unit of Hope’) in Swansea is currently the only inpatient unit of its kind in Wales.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: "We are committed to ensuring that mother and baby unit provision is made available for mothers who live in North Wales and are working with the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in order to develop this service."

A Senedd committee met to discuss the petition today (24 January). Committee member, Buffy Williamson, said: "I would like to write, if I could, to the Minister please and find out exactly what the plans are for the MU for North Wales and where they are thinking of situating one.

"I'd also like to find out what sort of timescale this project is looking at, what prevision will be there for first Welsh language speakers, because that's vitally important. I'd also like to know how women and families are being insight in where the MU is being situated, that's very important.

"Obviously, this is an emotive subject, this is something I've campaigned long and hard for, for a long time, and I think it's very, very important that we have answers now because this has been going on and on for some time.

"So if we could have answers to these questions from the Minister, and then re-visit this petition, I would be very grateful."

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