Accessing Treatment

Please note that the information provided below and throughout the Break the Silence - PNI website is for general purposes only. Anyone with mental health concerns should contact their health provider in order to obtain advice specific to individual needs.

In the majority of cases the 'baby blues' will pass by themselves.

Should this not happen, and Postnatal Illness develops, it is crucial that a woman and her family access the right kind of support from the medical professionals, for instance from their GP, health visitor and midwife. Training about Postnatal Illness is therefore essential for these medical professionals.

Expertise should also be available from a specialist perinatal team. Currently, depending on a woman's postcode, she may or may not be able to access this automatically. Nevertheless, should the need arise, it is each woman's entitlement to receive the most appropriate care. For help in locating a key perinatal service in your region please click here.

Severe Postnatal Illness

Women who need inpatient care for a mental disorder within 12 months of childbirth should be admitted to a specialist Mother and Baby unit.

NICE Antenatal & Postnatal Mental Health Guidelines (2007)

Where there is a substantial risk of harm to self or others, it is essential that a woman is admitted, not to a general psychiatric ward but to a specialised perinatal Mother and Baby unit.

A Mother and Baby unit typically offers a homely atmosphere in which the bonding of a mother and child can continue, while mothers have access to a full range of psychiatric treatment and services appropriate to their needs. Partners and family members are also encouraged to visit and support the mothers and babies.

The small number of dedicated Mother and Baby units and perinatal mental health services, combined with, in many cases, a lack of appropriate coordination for referrals, means that there are major discrepancies in their accessibility to women and their families when severe Postnatal Illness is experienced. Break The Silence - PNI believes that raising awareness about this discrepancy, together with providing information about perinatal services can help to aleviate the problem.


Not receiving the right care in the perinatal period could lead to tragedy. By providing support early on there is a reduced risk of relapse, and separation of Mother and Baby can be avoided.

Dr Protti, Consultant Perinatal Psychiatrist, North East London Foundation Trust

As far back as 400 B.C., Hippocrates was writing about women suffering from mental illness after giving birth. Yet 2,400 years later, we are only just beginning to understand and properly diagnose postpartum depression and the other perinatal mood disorders.

Diana Lynn Barnes, Psy.D. and Leight G. Balber

Separation from the mother can be traumatic and may leave long lasting and possibly permanent emotional disturbances. The presence of the mother disposes of that danger.

James Robertson, psychiatric social worker and psychoanalyst

Throughout the whole extremely difficult period, I clung on to what the perinatal experts at the Mother and Baby unit were telling me - PNI is treatable and the prognosis is good if a woman accesses appropriate care.

Peter Slater, father of former Mother and Baby unit patient


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