'I was petrified that I would harm my babies': Grantham mum describes what it's like to have post-natal psychosis
Being a parent can be exhausting and most mums and dads have moments of feeling down, especially after the birth of a new baby.
These feelings are often referred to as the ‘baby blues’ but if the feelings continue, it can lead to post-natal depression, a common problem that affects more than one in every 10 women within a year of giving birth. It can also affect fathers and partners.
However an even more terrifying but rare condition is post-natal psychosis.
We spoke to Jessica Bateson, a mum from Grantham who spent seven weeks in a mother and baby unit last year after being diagnosed with post-natal psychosis, the rare but serious and potentially life-threatening mental health issue after giving birth to her second child.
Just hours after welcoming her second son into the world, Jessica was overcome by an overwhelming sense of fear and ‘intrusive thoughts.’
The 25-year-old was living in Bedford with her then partner and three-year-old son Spencer when she gave birth to Chester, now one.
After a difficult pregnancy, Jessica was induced as her baby had stopped growing.
But within hours of her son being born, Jessica knew that she didn’t feel ‘quite right.’
She said: “I didn’t feel anything. Not sad, not upset, just nothing.”
After leaving hospital, Jessica started getting really intrusive thoughts and was hallucinating.
After building up the courage to go to her doctors, they told her that there was nothing wrong.
Jessica said: “She just put it down to baby blues and said that I was bound to be emotional after having a baby but I knew it was more than that especially as I had started hearing voices.”
Feeling like she had no where to turn, Jessica started hiding the kitchen knives.
She added: “I was petrified that I was going to harm my babies as I was having horrific thoughts. Because I had psychosis, although I didn’t know I had it at the time, I was convinced the devil was going to make me do something that I would never do but I was also so overprotective of them.”
When Chester was approximately three-weeks-old, Jessica’s partner got an appointment with a psychiatrist for a weeks time but Jessica knew that it was too long to wait, adding: “ I remember thinking that I didn’t have a week left.”
It all came to a head when Chester was four -weeks-old.
Jessica added: “I woke up and felt peaceful for the first time in ages and I knew that I was going to take my life that day.
“I was still breastfeeding and didn’t want to leave Chester without any milk so I went to the shop to get some formula and left it on my doorstep before I drove away.”
Discovering that she had gone missing, Jessica’s partner contacted the police who tracked Jessica down several hours later sitting in her car ‘in the middle of nowhere’.
She was taken back home where her entire family were waiting for her along with a crisis team, who gave Jessica the choice of being treated at home or going to a mother and baby unit in Chelmsford.
Jessica added: “Even though I knew that this was the help I needed, I could still hear voices telling me not to go.”
Jessica was taken to the Rainbow Mother and Baby Unit, a specialist five bed unit that provides mental health care and treatment for women during the late stages of pregnancy and up to one year after the birth of their baby.
Jessica remained in their care for the next seven weeks and was monitored around the clock.
Jessica added: “Luckily they had a bed for me as it’s normally very hard to get one as there are not many mother and baby units around.
“I really thought that I was going to die when I first walked in but as my medication started working, it felt that I could finally start thinking more clearly.
“Although it was a hospital, it was more like a house and everyone had their own bedroom.”
Jessica was finally diagnosed with Postnatal depression and Postpartum psychosis.
Jessica added: “I was also diagnosed with severe OCD which can be confused with psychosis but I had both.
“I remember the enormous relief when one of the doctors said ‘you are normal. You are just really poorly. We are going to help you.’ That felt amazing.”
After seven weeks, Jessica felt well enough to leave the unit and decided to move back to her hometown of Grantham after splitting up with her partner.
She hopes that her story will help parents have the courage to speak out and seek help.
She already has a huge online following and receives up to 15 messages a day from mums asking for advice.
She said: “So many mums suffer from PNP but it rarely gets spoken about. They shouldn’t be ashamed to seek help.
“I also want more mother and baby units as there is not enough to meet
Get in touch with Jessica on Facebook: Jessica April Bateson, dollie dutton club or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org