Thursday, 26 February 2009

Prime Minister's pathetic response to postnatal e-petition

Some of my subscribers may have been kind enough to put their name to an e-petition to the Prime Minister.

We asked

“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to arrange for more and higher standard of services for women and their families affected by post natal illness.”

Details of Petition:

“Currently services in the UK provided by the NHS are not up to the guidelines submitted by NICE. We believe the following basic principals should be put in place to help women and their families who are deeply affected by PNI to recover swiftly and fully: * A dedicated HV from each area in the UK to follow up any referrals from GP * Support groups on an informal basis to take the pressure off mums who may be suffering confidence with the opportunity to incorporate a buddy system. * Funds made for community groups to be set up with the support of a HV/CPN or other trained professional. * Faster follow up counseling than is currently available. * Shorter waiting lists for CBT and other therapies * A specifically trained individual on PNI to operate in each PCT * Correspondence for all mums with HV until the child reaches the age of 5 * More funding for charities supporting women and their families suffering PNI * Dedicated support for the father and families affected by the mother suffering PNI.”

This is the response and my personal reaction in brackets.

The Department of Health fully recognises that postnatal depression (PND) has a devastating effect not only on a woman following the birth of her child but also on her whole family. (I agree completely)

The Maternity Standard of the National Service Framework (NSF) for Children, Young People and Maternity Services sets standards for maternity care, including the early identification of and better support for women at the highest risk of developing postnatal depression. It is important for women to be provided with a postnatal care service that identifies their needs and responds in a structured and systematic way, and the NSF addresses this for both pre and postnatal mental health.
(Likewise I fully support this)

The 2007 strategy document Maternity Matters: Choice, access and continuity of care in a safe service builds on the maternity standard. It outlines how women should receive coordinated postnatal care, delivered according to relevant guidelines and in an agreed pathway of care, encompassing both medical and social needs of women and their babies, including those requiring perinatal mental health services or neonatal intensive care. Maternity Matters also outlines the roles that service providers and commissioners will have in the provision of woman-focused, family-centred maternity services, incorporating the need to commission high quality, equitable, integrated maternity services as part of maternity, neonatal and perinatal mental health networks, according to local need.

(yes - we know this!)

It is also quite clear that maternity services should be designed, reviewed and improved through a programme of consultation with users, and with a full range of choices of postnatal care. In particular, Maternity Matters advocates that all professionals involved in the care of women immediately following childbirth need to be able to distinguish normal emotional and psychological changes from significant mental health problems, and to refer women for support according to their needs.

(We also know this BUT it doesn't happen as there simply isn't enough training out there)

The Department of Health has proposed extending the current duration of community postnatal care. This is because current research suggests that the routine midwife discharge at ten to fourteen days and routine discharge from maternity care at six to eight weeks is too short for a full assessment of health needs, and does not identify those women who may have post-delivery health problems, which need longer term care.

(Hooray! How long have we been saying this?)

The Department has therefore recommended that midwifery-led services be provided for the mother and her baby for at least a month after birth or discharge from hospital, and up to three months longer depending on individual need. The whole emphasis is on having better multi-professional working in order to meet the complex needs of women and their families. We expect midwives and health visitors to work closely together at this important time in both the mother’s and baby’s life.

(This is a slight improvement BUT TOTALLY INADEQUATE!!!!!)

So where are the references to the NICE guidelines? To the Child Health Promotion Programme?

Where is the extra funding needed for training and ensuring there are sufficient midwives and health visitors? Where is the extra support for prevention methods?

Sorry Mr. Brown but you have let the many, many families affected by this awful illness down badly.

'Recommendations' are simply not good enough. Maternal mental health care is a huge issue and can affect families for years. How much more suffering has to go on before long-term funding and managed care pathways are put into place?

As a former teacher my mark to Mr. Brown in red ink would be an 'E grade - not good enough - SEE ME!'

See the article here

Looks like we still have a fight on our hands! Care to join me anyone?


P.S. I enjoyed being on Heather Stott's coffee shop this morning on BBC Radio Manchester. Fellow guests Val and Simon and I had fun talking about issues of the day.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

What about the children?

I was contacted today by a charity called 'What about the children'.

Their aims are:-

Raising awareness of the never-changing emotional needs
of children under 3 in our ever-changing society

We provide information from research to parents, professionals and politicians about the critical importance of secure primary attachment for the healthy emotional development of infants.

We campaign for employers and financial institutions, government and the health service to institute or improve policies and practises that give practical support to families with young children.

We campaign for tax and child benefit systems that enable parents to have a realistic choice to provide the main care for their children in the first three years.

Have a looked at their website to find out more!

They have an excellent conference coming up on 17th March. I cannot attend as I am already booked for another event.

I support their aims fully as I am increasingly aware of the detrimental effects on the children if a mother has mental health issues. In my case being separated from Dominic when I was so poorly was cruel for both of us - especially as I was still breast feeding. It remains a scandal that there are more mother and baby specialist beds in UK prisons than the WHOLE of the NHS. This is NOT good enough.

What do you think?


Monday, 23 February 2009

Forward Ladies in Manchester

Today I spoke at an event for Forward Ladies
(the North's premier womens' networking and business support group) at the Mariott Victoria and Albert hotel in Manchester.

I have to compliment the staff at the hotel for their excellent service today! From start to finish the whole team were attentive to our every need. I even had my laptop and computer all connected up for me!

A select group of ladies heard me speak on my story and how my experiences have helped me to recognise and develop stress survival techniques. I hope you found it useful!

It was a pleasure to meet you all and I hope to see you at other Forward Ladies events.

Also today I was featured in Clive Gott's newsletter with regards to the personal development day we did in January together. Have a look under 'Feedback'.


Saturday, 14 February 2009

Go Ape! I certainly did!

One aspect I often speak about at my presentations is creating a list of experiences that make you feel good! Then at times when you are low, even if you aren't clinically depressed you will have a list to refer to and can use it as a guide to make you feel good again by indulging in something from that list!

I confess that until today one thing which would NOT have been on MY list would have been climbing high up in trees and generally exerting myself in 'unnatural ways'! When I was 17 I went on an Outward Bound course and we had an adventure trail to complete. I was doing okay until up in the course in the trees I was faced with crossing a log about 10 foot long with no support either side! Our tutor. Mike, sat at the other end and he was SO patient with me until I finally did it. That was almost 30 years ago and I still have terrified thoughts about it! However, I did do it so it also has motivated me at difficult times in my life when I recalled that experience and thought 'If I can do that, then I can do this...'

But swinging on ropes in trees has never ever appealed to me before or since. So imagine my reaction to being told I was going to 'Go Ape' as a treat! It is described as

The Go Ape Experience

Climb the trees and slide across high wires, crawl through tunnels, cross rope bridges, walk the planks and zip down to the ground!

Go Ape is an award-winning high wire forest adventure course of rope bridges, tarzan swings and zip slides... all set high up in the trees.

Clive took me into the Dalby forest and we were fitted with harnesses. I admit to being extremely scared! Yet I surprised myself at how soon I did get 'into the swing' of it! The climbing bits I found a challenge as exercise and me don't get together very often. But the pure EXHILARATION of the zip lines were FANTASTIC! Well worth the effort of the climbs, scrambles, stretches, etc.

The forest was covered in a new layer of snow so not only did it look very pretty but the landings were soft too!

I can honestly say that I have added something new to my 'feel good' list - a zip wire in a snowy forest!

Thanks Clive for encouraging me to jump - no hands!!!


Friday, 13 February 2009

Rotherham Maternal Mental Health Pathways

Today I spoke at a stakeholder event organised by Rotherham PCT for Maternal Mental Health. There was a very good cross section of delegates ranging from medical students (hooray!), social workers, midwives, GP, obstetrician and we even had a psychiatrist popping in.

It was obvious that Rotherham has got some good systems in place already for maternal mental health but following this event to identify and 'fill-in the gaps' it should go from strength to strength.

If you attended and would like to add your service details here it would be helpful!

Thank you,


Thursday, 12 February 2009

Liverpool Chamber of Commerce

Today I went along to my first event with Liverpool Chamber of Commerce to a new members lunch - I have joined.

In spite of the cold weather outside, inside the welcome was very warm. It was an excellent opportunity to learn about what the Chamber can offer and we had chance to network with some other new members.

I spoke to Ian from as I was concerned about using bits of music in my presentations. He has gone to find out for me!

Also chatted to Guy who makes hand made clocks for children at

My partner Clive gave us all some tips on networking.

A useful touch was being given a diary of all the members, put together by

Thank you Liverpool Chamber of Commerce for a very useful and informative event!


Thursday, 5 February 2009

What's in a name? A new mum's identity!

Today I spoke in a lovely lecture theatre at St. Richard's Hospital in Chichester to a group of staff, including community midwives and students. Thank you for having me again! This trip I managed a mooch around the town - very nice!

I also received this message from a delegate at a recent event which I wanted to share (and have the sender's permission to do so)as I feel there are lessons for us all.

Dear Elaine, I listened to your speech recently identifying with everything you spoke about. I had PND with my first child and had my breakdown day too. I was lucky as I had moved house the month before and my new g.p whom I broke down in front of diagnosed PND immediately - by that time I had lost 9 months of my daughters life. I knew I had not been right and even at 6 weeks postnatally was trying to express these feelings to my health visitor and female g.p all who told me of course I was tired I was a new mum, then I would feel much better once I had returned to work!
I do believe that many first time mums do not realise that having a baby
is a life time commitment and life changing event and that you will never be the same again. You are a mum first and foremost and in the early days the old you ceases to have time to exist.
Identity of mum and dad is irrevocably changed.I was no longer just Barbara I was ' MuM' When I speak to new mothers I always address them by their name! They need to know they do still exist!
Feelings I was unprepared for were those that no matter what you do or don't do you will always worry and feel guilty! That's the role of a mother is it not?
I was told reassurance was that a smiling happy child is proof enough that you are doing okay! However if someone had told me that what I was feeling was okay and quite normal I would have been able to accept this. I know now that's its okay to worry and normal to feel guilty at times.
Everlasting needs of our children continue 24 hours a day, women are sometimes not prepared for this and the overwhelming burden of responsibility I had when I became a mum threw me.I thought I knew what being a mum would entail but I did not have a clue, the mixture of a love I would have killed for and all these other feelings scared me I did not know how to deal with them and no one reassured me that they were normal, to accept them, that I did not have to fix anything, nothing was broken!
I was a special care baby nurse of many years before becoming a mother and everyone assumed I knew what I was doing!
I am becoming a midwife so I can reassure women that even when things don't go to their expected plan to reassure them that providing they are well and baby is well they are okay and to try to ensure they are given the support and opportunity to be able to enjoy the baby they have so looked forward to having.
I was lucky although my partner was terrified of having to go through me having PND again we had another child and we got the support systems in place to ensure I did not get sleep deprived and had 'me time' every week. I now have two fabulous girls - yes it's hard work, yes I get tired, yes I feel gaily and I worry but that's my role and its normal. If I didn't feel this way I would be very worried. I know at least 3 other friends who have suffered with PND but all are ashamed of having it, 2 of which have not felt brave enough to go onto have another child.
In training we are taught to emphasize the normal, when are we going to acknowledge that PND is common and women who get it are normal in every other way?!!

Thank you for sharing that! I think there are lessons in there for us all.


Sunday, 1 February 2009

Social work and postnatal depression

Today I have been busy adding email addresses given to me at events for subscrition to my newsletter - coming soon!

I came across a lovely testimonial from Chris, a social worker with a Family Support Team who recently heard me speak. I publish it in response to a few enquiries asking if what I have to say is relevant to social workers .... judge for yourself.

Elaine is an excellent speaker and her personal story is inspirational. I have been on a real journey today and I'm sure that everything I have learned will stay with me forever, and help me and also the people I come into contact with as a social worker. I think everyone would benefit from this course. I hope you continue to share your story and experiences as there are many people out there who need to hear it.

Thank you for sharing that Chris!