This is a brief post sharing some of my experiences with specialist maternity and perinatal mental health services so far. It's more of an adjunct to my first trimester post (and my forthcoming second trimester post). I didn't want to leave this out really as I think it may be helpful for some of you...
As advised by my GP, when I was about seven weeks pregnant I self-referred to my local hospital's maternity services. My initial 'booking appointment' a was cold experience during which a midwife asked me intensely personal questions in a highly impersonal manner and robotically recorded my responses in on-screen tick boxes. When she got to the section on mental health, I told her about my BPD; there was no box so she asked me which one to tick and I said 'other'. The letter that I received a few weeks later said I had 'bipolar disorder' so contacted them and asked them to correct it.
I am now under a specialist midwife team for 'vulnerable women' which means that I get a specific midwife, rather than seeing a different one each appointment, and an individualised care plan. She also has a direct phone number which I can call or text, instead of having to go through the general enquiries phone line. I am pleased to be under the care of the 'vulnerable women' team rather than the general midwives as I feel it offers me a bit more protection, for example having a specific birth plan for people with mental health conditions and a bit more space to ask for, and receive, support should I need it. I think being under the care of this team makes it easier for me to access support like the 'birth options' midwife and extra midwife visits after the birth.
For a year or so, I've also been registered with the 'perinatal service' which is a maternal mental health service supporting people who are planning to have a baby, who are pregnant or new parents. I was referred by my old psychiatrist and was seen for a 'pre-conception' appointment. I found this appointment really cold. My husband and I were talking about something so personal as wanting to have a baby and the only thing the psychiatrist spoke about about was medication (which I had already decided I wanted to come off). Luckily, the next appointment was more holistic and she said the team would make a birth plan for me to protect my mental health.
As mentioned, this is a short post and I will make it more fully formed when I can. Take care everyone.
- Rosie x