Support for new mothers with epilepsy and mental health problems

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/health-46064807/maternal-suicide-the-main-cause-of-death-in-new-mums

I saw the story of Bronagh in the BBC news. When I watched it I cried.

Bronagh had epilepsy and after she became a new mum at the age of 21 she became depressed.

Having a baby can put any woman at risk of mental health problems. According to NHS.co.uk 1 in 10 women experience postnatal depression, so GP’s need to be on the look out. Sleep deprivation and anxiety also cause problems. PTSD, OCD and psychosis can also be a problem postnatally. Only recently Adele shared the story of her friends struggle with postnatal psychosis. (1)

Bronagh’s Mum talks about how Bronagh was told she couldn’t be left alone with her baby because of her epilepsy, because she was a danger to her baby. Because of this Bronagh wasn’t comfortable lifting or touching her baby.

This is tragic.

When I read this it made me very angry. Women with epilepsy may need extra support after having a baby, but to be made to feel like she was a bad mother and couldn’t touch or look after her baby is a completely inaccurate and destructive impression to give anyone with epilepsy, or any new mother.

Women with epilepsy can and do have babies all the time. Women with epilepsy are good mothers. I suspect women with epilepsy feel like they have to be 1000 times better than other mothers, because-personally I have found women with a disability feel continuously under scrutiny.

Epilepsy action provides information to women in the UK about pregnancy and how to care for yourself and a new baby. There is no reason why a woman can’t have or hold her baby, or enjoy being a mother. (2) Some things like washing baby are better done when your partner is at home for support and safety, so it must have been especially difficult and frightening for Bronagh to have so much negative reinforcement about her ability as a mum.

Bronagh asked for help from health care professionals postnatally. She didn’t receive the help she needed.

Sadly Bronagh took her own life.

Her story raises the importance of perinatal Care not just in epilepsy but in mental health. In the UK there are only 131 perinatal beds. There are none in Northern Ireland or Wales. This has to change.

As a woman with epilepsy myself I am no stranger to the problems we face in society such as prejudice, ignorance and lack of education.

Unfortunately lack of healthcare is an area which can only be improved by better government funded NHS facilities. I hope the money that has been promised by the government does go into improving this area of health care.

Having a baby should be the beginning of a new life not the end of one.

(1) https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/aug/15/adele-shares-story-of-friends-postpartum-psychosis-to-help-new-mothers?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

(2) https://www.epilepsy.org.uk/info/daily-life/having-baby/after-the-birth

Advertisements

Health Problems and Emotional Wellbeing – Prevention Not Cure

In his forward to Chinese Medical Qigong page 1 (1) Marc S. Micozzi M.D. PHD states “current political debates in the US about healthcare “reform” amount only to “rearranging the deck chairs on the SS Titanic”.

Personally I would extend this description of healthcare to Britain as well, because in my experience current welfare and NHS “reform” amounts to the same superficial, short sighted rearrangement. (2)

In global economic recession poverty and therefore health problems are on the rise.

In the book ‘Violence, inequality and human freedom’ by Peter Iadicola and Anson Shupe; ‘structural violence’ is described as ‘violence of institutions’, ‘for example, violence can be an outcome of how we have organised society in terms of access to basic necessities of survival’ (3). The implications of which are limited access to medical care and education for the poor.

In the wake of the economic sinking ship there is the question; how to tackle health problems when poverty is on the rise?

The NICE Guidelines for clinical excellence (4) lay out the ‘stepped approach’ for mental health problems and recommend therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, counselling and access to health care services which should be available to combat common mental health disorders. NICE lays out all guidelines for healthcare in Britain.

It is unfortunate that the resources to provide for these guidelines are being cut, or in some cases are simply not there at all (5). Additionally changes to the benefit system are being made which negatively impact upon the emotional health of the sick and disabled (6).

The situation is not helped by competition for the little work that is available. It is easier to manage health with an income and something to occupy the mind such as a job, in my experience.

What possible solutions are there to these problems?

Could the application of systems theory (7) be the beginning of change in bringing information about health to the masses?

In her book ‘Your Health is Your Wealth’, Jacqueline Harvey appears to be supporting the view that self-education and self-care and responsibility are the way forward in terms of a long term solutions to integrative health. (8)

I support this whole heartedly, as in my experience holistic health practices such as yoga (9) and tai chi (10) are very beneficial for health and promote self-care and self-education. They encourage the exploration of body, nutrition/diet and psychological personal development.

It would be nice to think that children have the opportunity to access these types of exercises and mindfulness practices, as well as physical education and sports so that in the future they did not need to access Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (11) for health conditions like personality disorder. DBT has some basis in Buddhist mindfulness practice. Would it therefore be cost effective to build mindfully based approaches to health into the education and health system from an early age?

In the circumstances the building of networks, social or otherwise, and communities on a local, national and worldwide scale; made up of existing established resources, practices and health resources seem like the way forward in tipping the balance towards preventing health problems and managing conditions.

I think I am a little bit ‘evangelical’ about promoting personal health care exploration.

God bless the World Wide Web.

And finally:http://www.drfranklipman.com/motivation-and-personality/ an after thought but very relevent.

References

(1) Chinese Medical Qigong – Editor in Chief: Tianjun Liu, OMD Associate Editor in Chief: Kevin W Chen, Ph.D.

(2) http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/vincent-brogan/private-healthcare-and-th_b_1909057.html?utm_hp_ref=health-and-social-care-bill

(3) Violence, Inequality and Human Freedom by Peter Iadicola and Anson Shupe ISBN:0-7425-1923-6 Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc

(4) http://www.nice.org.uk/nicemedia/live/13476/54520/54520.pdf

(5) http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/jul/11/benefit-reforms-penalise-disabled-people

(6) http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Documents/GetInvolved/Campaigns/Benefits/FailedByTheSystemReport.pdf

(7) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systems_theory

(8) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Your-Health-Is-Wealth/dp/1401916287

mine came free with http://www.ommagazine.com/ October 2012

(9) http://littlewindmillyoga.com/2012/10/21/yoga-the-ultimate-freedom-trailer/

(10)                    http://www.taichimaster.com/tai-chi/the-tai-chi-tipping-point/

(11)                    http://www.priory.com/dbt.htm