Thursday, 29 April 2010

My NEW advice line!

I now have my own advice line number so if you need to contact me for support regarding mental health, postnatal illness, etc. please call me on 0905 675 4612.

(£1.20/min from a BT landline. Calls from other networks and from mobiles may cost more.)

Elaine Hanzak

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

The stigma of mental health difficulties for students in Higher Education and beyond.

Thanks to Jill Anderson, Senior Project Development Office, Mental Health in Higher Education for this information.

Martin, J.M. (2010) Stigma and student mental health in higher education, Higher Education Research & Development, Volume 29, Issue 3 June 2010 , pages 259 - 274

Stigma is a powerful force in preventing university students with mental health difficulties from gaining access to appropriate support. This paper reports on an exploratory study of university students with mental health difficulties that found most students did not disclose their mental health problems to staff at university. This was primarily due to fear of discrimination during their studies and in professional employment. Many students went to considerable efforts to hide their mental health condition and in doing so struggled to meet university requirements. Of the minority who did disclose, most received helpful assistance with both their studies and management of their mental health condition. The university was the main source of support services including counselling, disability, student union and housing. A range of measures are required to address the impact of stigma and mental health to empower students so that they can disclose in the confidence that they will be treated fairly.,email

I understand the worry as I faced stigma - even though my mental illness had been 1996/98 when I applied to a supply teaching agency in 2005 I was not allowed to be on their list 'due to my mental health issues' even though I was on a sabbatical from my full-time teaching post! Crazy. I also had had a clean mental health since. Within my full-time post one member of staff always accused me of 'still being mentally unstable' if I objected to any of her decisions! Our house insurance went through the roof because we were honest. And when I had digestive problems around 2000/1 a ward manager told my Mum that as physical tests early on were inconclusive then 'it's obvious - she's at it again - a history of mental illness'!! When my true diagnosis of wheat intolerance solved all my pain I would have loved to have received a written apology from the 'nurse' in question.

It is not surprising that people are reluctant to admit to mental health difficulties when society and bureaucracy judge in such ways.

But please do NOT suffer in silence because your condition will not improve. Fight the stigma. We must challenge these narrow-minded, judgemental bullies and work together to improve mental health and well-being.

Elaine Hanzak

Friday, 23 April 2010

How does it feel to suffer from puerperal/postpartum psychosis?

Via Facebook I have been shown a moving, personal film and reflections on puerperal psychosis.

It made me cry! Many people who have read my book and heard my story comment I am brave to do so. I don't think I am but I am passionate about saving others from the hell we went through as a family.

I am delighted when I receive feedback that a friend or professional has spotted early signs of postnatal illness due to my story/talk and that support and intervention has been put in as a result. We cannot measure the 'success' of that, but I know it feels right.

My 'baby' is 14 on Monday yet watching this YouTube film brought back many of the feelings I had all those years ago. Feelings that run so deep they remain with you like letters in a stick of rock. Other sufferers often thank me for making them feel that they are not alone, that they are not a bad mother.

Thank you Andrea for sharing this ... because YOU made ME feel that and why we must all work together to ease the suffering of others.

Now get your tissues ..

Elaine Hanzak

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Postnatal depression and breastfeeding - the right answer?

Today I am speaking to staff at the Wexham hospital at Slough and have been asked to focus on breastfeeding and postnatal depression. In doing so I have collated some of the latest developments around the subject.

I breast fed Dominic and it remains one of my favourite experiences EVER! The closeness, the bond, the skin-against-skin, the ultimate maternal feeling. For those who have read my book the paragraph on page 52, when we were staying in a hotel when he was a few months old describes this:-

'As I sat curled up on the settee with Dominic suckling me I felt a wave of love for him which I had never really felt before. He was staring up at me, gulping away, then he suddenly stopped, caught my eye and smiled at me. Milk dribbled over both of us, but I did not care. He was my baby and I loved him. His smell. His feel. His smile.'

I persevered through all the disturbed nights, the painful infection of mastitis and only was forced to stop when I was hospitalised without him. I forever feel robbed of the natural ending of that bond and one of the many reasons I fight to get more Mother and Baby Units.

On the other hand I wonder did breast feeding contribute to my puerperal psychosis? In some ways I held onto the fact that I was the ONLY one who could feed Dominic so I had to be the one who did the night shifts; I could never have a true break so I became exhausted. I saw myself as invincible and no one else could help. I tried a breast pump - ooch!!! Breast feeding became the only thing in my increasing chaotic world that I could control and was my weapon to push away offers of help. There were many other stresses that added to my illness but I have to say this might be considered as one.

Then there is the 'guilt' because everyone tells you 'breast is best' so you carry on because with postnatal depression you feel you are a bad mother any way so if you stop, then it makes you even worse!

In contrast my sister had her first baby on 14th February and was very poorly physically. Claire also wanted to breast feed but for various reasons it could not happen. She too felt guilt. Yet here we are weeks later, Claire is brilliant; the rest of us can't wait to have baby Sophie and fight to have her overnight so that Claire gets a rest - well, that's our excuse! In all honesty we just love being with her - although of course we are giving Claire as much support as she wants.

My colleague Ann Girling, with whom I am doing day workshops for Children's centres, also feels that breast feeding is wonderful but the most important thing for a baby is that it is fed and LOVED!

The wonderful Katherine Stone has some great stories on her blog about this - look at Breastfeeding & Postpartum Depression: What Should Moms Do?!
I agree with her statement
'Women must support each other in their choices, including breastfeeding. We all travel down different roads.'

There are some wonderful handouts and short articles on Depression in New Mothers written by Dr. Kathleen Kendall-Tackett at

I was fascinated by the article here on Should Mothers Avoid Nighttime Breastfeeding to Decrease Their Risk of Depression?

The studies show that advising women to avoid nighttime breastfeeding to lessen the risk of depression is not medically sound. 'In fact, if women follow this advise, it may actually increase their risk of depression'.

I also think that this document by the New Hampshire Breastfeeding Task force is very useful -
2010 Breastfeeding-Friendly Approach to Depression in New Mothers: A Curriculum and Resource Guide for Health Care Professionals (Contains several screening scales and questionnaires) .

This has all the evidence based research and ideas for helping mothers.

Other useful websites are:


So yes, I do agree that breast is best, but it is a decision that cannot be taken in isolation and as Katherine says, we must be able to offer support to a mother and baby for what is 'best' for them. We all have a duty to make informed choices, sometimes which may be taken from us, but whatever the outcome to be surrounded by non-judgemental support.

Elaine Hanzak

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Maternal depression can undermine the development of young children

Maternal depression can undermine the development of young children: Working paper no 8

Serious depression in parents and caregivers can affect far more than the adults who are ill. It also influences the well-being of the children in their care. The first joint Working Paper from the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child and the National Forum on Early Childhood Policy and Programs summarizes recent evidence on the potentially far-reaching harmful effects of chronic and severe maternal depression on families and children. This report examines why the continuing failure to address the consequences of depression for large numbers of vulnerable, young children presents a missed opportunity to help families and children in a way that could support the future prosperity and well-being of society as a whole.

This paper is certainly worth a read!
And action!!

Elaine Hanzak

Monday, 19 April 2010

All together, a better way of working. Integrated working campaign

The Children’s Workforce Development Council (CWDC) is working with Skills for Health to promote a range of tools designed to help everyone working with children and young people to work together better. This new campaign is CWDC’s latest initiative to promote a more joined up way of working aligned to CWDC’s focus on working to improve the lives of children and young people.

Have a look at

Elaine Hanzak

Saturday, 17 April 2010

A week of Wellbeing?

I have had a busy week!
On Tuesday I gave a presentation to a group of midwives and staff at the Balsall Heath Children's Centre in Birmingham. I had been invited by Elsie Gayle who holds a series of meeting entitled 'Midwifery Conversations'.

Later on I spoke to members and guests at the Midlands chapter of the Professional Speakers Association about my story and some of my suggestions on how to be a successful speaker.

I am rather pleased as I have received an invitation to speak in New Zealand in October this year. I am now looking for other opportunities 'down under' in the autumn to make the most of the trip. Can you help?

On Wednesday I met up with Ann Girling to make further plans on the sessions we have been doing with Children's centres. We were delighted to receive feedback from one we did recently, from the lead at a Children's centre:-

A Family Support Lead and Family Support worker have just returned from a child protection
meeting where FSL was able to ask the question had anyone considered that the Mum was suffering with postnatal depression. The meeting had  a GP and Health Visitor in attendance so you can imagine that without some knowledge this could have been difficult to do.

FSL's comments to me were " The training gave her the information she needed re the signs that Mum was displaying and the confidence to speak out". A support plan by FSL and her team has now been put in place.

I felt that you needed to know this as all too often we are unaware of the impact of training.

We are thrilled!

Thursday morning was spent with mental health students at Salford University - I hope to begin to speak to their student midwives too.

That evening was spent at a Platform event organised by the Hope Street Centre.  It was good to hear Andy Hull from Liverpool PCT speak about the Liverpool 2010 Year of Health and Wellbeing.  The next event will be on the 8th June and feature Bob Ricketts, director of system management and new enterprise, from the Department of Health.

The week ended with an enlightening morning called 'Ignite your Life' - a workshop aimed at improving your mental health. This was run by The Wellbeing Project,  with whom Ann and I are doing some antenatal workshops next month.  I was very impressed with the team there and listened to great sessions by Stephanie Davies from Laughology; Mark from the Wellbeing Project speaking about the Five Ways to Wellbeing and finished by singing my heart out with the wonderful Bernie Whelan from Crescendo!

Finally Friday evening was spent leisurely at The Knutsford Wine Bar. Very tasty!

I had been planning on being with my new baby niece this weekend - but I can't get near as my parents haven't been able to go to Austria for a holiday! I think my Mum's wellbeing has been improved by not being able to fly!

The Five ways to Wellbeing are:
Connect - I reckon I have connected to many this week!
Be active - Better have a walk with the pram tomorrow!
Take notice - We noticed the empty, blue, quiet sky above Knutsford - no planes.
Keep Learning - I learnt at all the events I attended this week.
Give - I gave my time on Tuesday to the groups I spoke to and hopefully they benefited.

What have you done?

Elaine Hanzak

Friday, 16 April 2010

Dads matter - get them involved with Fathers' Story Week

Timed to coincide with Fathers’ Day (20 June 2010), Fathers’ Story Week (14 to 20 June 2010) is a fantastic opportunity for nurseries, pre-schools and primary schools to get fathers and children working and spending time together in support of their children’s learning and development.

We hope that you and your team will get involved, have fun and at the same time get to know more of the dads in your locality. Please pass this e-mail onto at least 2 colleagues in early years and schools so that they too can get involved and make a positive impact on father-child and parental relationships.

To find out more visit the Fathers’ Story Week website at to download FREE resources, lesson and session plans and ideas to cover a whole week’s worth of activities, which will be fun for children and their fathers, grandfathers and father-figures.

Did you know….

• Positive engagement between father and child is linked to higher IQ at age 7 and 11, and better exam results at 16?
• The more a father reads to his 1-2 year old, the greater the child’s interest in books later?
• Fathers exert greater influence than mothers on boys’ educational choices?

Through Fathers’ Story Week you can get your dads more involved with projects matched to the Early Years Foundation Stage learning and development requirements and Key Stage 1 and 2 National Curriculum - and along the way, show mums, dads and children that you value fathers’ role.

To download our FREE resources and read more about why fathers are so important to their children’s learning and development, visit Whilst you are there visit the supporters’ page( see who has endorsed this fantastic new initiative.

May we once again urge you to pass this information onto at least 2 colleagues in schools and the early years sector, the more settings that are involved the greater the impact. 

Elaine Hanzak

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Baby Matterz

Check out this website for a new approach to parenting classes - which for a change targets the right age!

This is based on the Canadian 'Roots of Empathy' programme, which is well evidenced and has been hugely successful. The Roots of Empathy has been rolled out on the Isle of Man and is about to start in Nottingham.

However, Baby Matterz is UK based and far cheaper to train in (you do not have to go to Canada for a start). The idea is to link a pregnant mum, and then mum + baby, to a class or a children's centre group. The teacher gets a 5 day training over a year, and the scheme is supported by well thought out 'mindmaps'. It would be an ideal project for any children's centre attached to a primary school.

Thanks to Jan-net for this information.

Elaine Hanzak

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Guide for New Dads

A guide for new fathers is to be handed to parents of all newborn babies in maternity units across the UK.

The Guide for New Dads, produced by the Fatherhood Institute and funded by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), will be included in Bounty packs – the packs of information, advice and samples of baby care products given to parents at the birth of their children.

The Guide for New Dads contains key information, top tips and useful contacts for new fathers, under the following headings:
• Welcome to fatherhood
• You and Mum – working together
• Your legal position
• Earning and caring
• Looking after your family’s health
• Communicating with your baby

Contributors include the Royal College of Midwives, the Men’s Health Forum and the Centre for Separated Families.
to read Fathers and family health in the perinatal period, the FI’s research summary in support of the Guide.

Copies of the guide are available from the Fatherhood Institute website or by emailing or Tel. 0845 634 1328.

Elaine Hanzak

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Want information on Perinatal and Infant mental health?

If you would like to receive mailings on perinatal and infant mental health please take notice:-

Registration Now Required

The PIMH Network is changing from April 2010 you will no longer receive the Jan-Net PIMH monthly bulletin or any special mailings if you have previously registered.

At the end of April 2010 The National Child and Maternal Health Observatory (ChiMat) which is funded by the Department of Health to provide information and enable access to resources will produce and circulate the first monthly ebulletin to registered member

You will not continue to receive a bulletin unless you register

You need to register by 23rd April 2010 to receive the end of April bulletin

You can register for one or more e-bulletins on the ChiMat website – Go to
From this page click on register here and type your contact details into the joining form which appears.

If you are already registered with ChiMat you can sign up for additional e-bulletins. To do this, login to the website, view your Profile and click on ‘Change Mailing Settings’ to select or de-select which e-bulletins you want to receive. We hope you will register and continue to receive a regular knowledge update as we are concerned that less than 30% of members of former networks have registered for the new service.

In recent surveys of current recipients of the bulletins users have commented:

“I have found it an invaluable source of information and keeping me up to date”

“ It helps keep me up to date with latest information and events re; infant mental health”

‘Very current information, I am always in the know according to colleagues. Arrives regularly, hassle free’

Thank you to Janet for all the work she has done with the jan-net mailings in the past!

Elaine Hanzak

Monday, 12 April 2010

Mental health info for pregnancy and Get Well cards for those with a mental illness

The Royal College of Psychiatrists have produced a new leaflet on mental health in pregnancy.

This leaflet is written for:
  • women with mental health problems during pregnancy
  • pregnant women who have had mental health problems in the past
  • their partners, family or friends.

The leaflet will help you learn about:
  • mental health problems in pregnancy
  • how to stay well during pregnancy and after the birth of your baby
  • how to decide whether or not to take medication in pregnancy
  • what help and support there is for pregnant women with mental health problems.
See the full version here:

I also notice that they are selling get well cards specifically designed for those who are suffering from poor mental health. So often people forget the typical kind things they do for those suffering physically so these are a great idea! Remember the flowers too and that great saying 'is there anything I can do to help'?
Order the cards here:

Elaine Hanzak

Sunday, 11 April 2010

News of the World - ECT 'Frankenstein' treatment of Bev from Coronation St

I have just noticed today's headline in News of the World 'Bev Callard: Frankenstein op saved me from suicide'.

See the full story here

Basically she had ECT - electroconvulsive therapy - as a successful treatment for her severe depression. As I did.

I confess that I am pleased when celebrities 'come out' about their mental health problems as it does help reduce some of the stigma BUT when the reporting sensationalises and potentially scares society about treatments, it DOES NOT help.

ECT may be considered by some to be barbaric but it is done under general anaesthetic. Quite frankly I have bigger concerns about my hysterectomy operation last year. Why isn't that sensationlised as barbaric too? I was 'put out' by a needle stabbing me; a number of chemicals pumped into my body; someone plunging a knife into me and cutting pieces out of me; stitching me up and then being pumped with more chemicals for days afterwards.

By comparison ECT was a doddle! It meant I also had a needle put in my hand; a peaceful drifting off to sleep, (which at the time was a relief) and after a little while gently being woken, given a cup of tea, and walking back to the ward with no more than a slight headache.

For me ECT also brought me back to life when puerperal psychosis had stolen the 'real' me. I don't understand how it works but neither do I understand how this computer works! But I have benefitted from both! I do know that following a number of these treatments little by little I learnt to sleep again and as that happened so did my ability to function as a rationale human being again. For that I am eternally grateful.

What concerns me with reporting as in News of the World today is that people out there may well refuse a treatment which could have helped them. Words such as 'Frankenstein', 'smell of burning flesh' may have been written by Bev Callard as part of her description but need not have been used as the main focus. The fact is that she has got better!

That is the fact that needs stressing and NOT the fact that a misunderstood treatment should be sensationalised like this.

Elaine Hanzak

Just as I am pleased with the outcome of the physical operation I remain very grateful for having been given a treatment for my mental illness which ultimately gave me my life back in other ways.

Friday, 9 April 2010

'Getting it Right from the Start' - DVD/booklet on attachment and bonding

Tameside and Glossop Early Attachment Service is an Infant Mental Health Service which has been running formally for two years.

They offer training and consultation to professionals and a comprehensive clinical service to families from pregnancy through to 3 years of age.

They would like to make an early announcement of the publication of a DVD and booklet on attachment and bonding for new parents, ‘Getting it right from the start’.

This resource will be given to every new parent in Tameside and Glossop.

Based on two years of research and filming local families, this resource draws on principles of early attachment, brain research, the Neonatal Brazelton Assessment Scale (NBAS) and containment.

The booklet/DVD will be available for purchase from April 2010.

If anyone is interested in purchasing this booklet/DVD for their own service, please contact,

Catherine Mee (0161 368 4242 – )

or Dr. Pauline Lee (0161 342 4477,

It sounds very exciting! I can't wait for mine!

Elaine Hanzak

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Booktrust - The Rhyme Challenge and Storybump

Yesterday I attended a meeting at the Royal College of Midwifery, 
It was to hear the report back on the Storybump pilot with Booktrust.
Booktrust is an independent UK-wide charity dedicated to encouraging people of all ages and cultures to enjoy books. The written word permeates all our activity and helps us to fulfil our vision of inspiring a lifelong love of books for all. 

Storybump is an exciting new project initially being aimed at those considered to be in vulnerable groups as pregnant mums, but with a longer term aim of it being available to all, like the well-established Bookstart scheme.
Babies can hear from inside the womb from 24 weeks gestation so it is ideal to begin singing, saying rhymes and reading to the 'bump'. It can aid relaxation, begin bonding and reduce anxieties amongst other benefits.
The two initial pilots have been well-received and the pack given is lovely with a couple of books and rhyme CD in it. Stage 2 will involve other areas taking part later in the year. Watch this space!

Another scheme which Booktrust are currently doing is the brilliant Rhyme Challenge.

The Challenge is for pre-school and reception aged children and is an extension activity to our bookgifting programmes; Bookstart and Booktime. The main aim of the Challenge is to encourage a love of rhymes and early poetry in a fun and informal way. It is also an excellent way to increase family involvement by encouraging fathers, mothers, family members and carers to enjoy learning rhymes within the home and get involved in their child’s learning. 

The posters, print-outs and certificates are really impressive! The teacher in me felt a wall display and theme coming on!

I have been very impressed with the team at Booktrust and feel the Storybump will be a great asset to the scheme.

Elaine Hanzak

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Stress and lack of support leaving some teachers suicidal

I read today that 'stress and lack of support leaving some teachers suicidal', as highlighted by a report at the NASUWT conference.

See the full report here$1369318$1345015.htm

A wide range of causes were blamed for the stress being suffered by teachers, including bullying school management, the tick-box culture, targets and difficult pupils. 

As a former teacher I understand fully where this is coming from as both myself and close colleagues have been affected by some of these issues. It is heartbreaking to see formerly well-motivated, highly effective teachers having the stuffing knocked out of them, especially emotionally. I have seen some having to 'go' because they have turned to the bottle in order to cope. They don't get help but hounded out. I have seen grown men, formerly dynamic, capable guys with a passion and flare for teaching reduced to tearful wrecks. 

To those who have never stepped foot in a classroom there will be the usual cry of 'what have they got to be stressed about with their short hours and long holidays?'. In truth as a teacher you never switch off. Most of the holidays are spent doing endless piles of paperwork and planning and evaluation and target setting ... the list goes on and on.

The bullying culture I feel is especially rife out there. Claiming to be off with 'stress' tends to have the senior team and staff room full of disparaging remarks and no sympathy. You are viewed as weak. I did get a lot of support when I was off long term due to puerperal psychosis but that was 13 years ago now. When I left almost 5 years ago the culture and pressures had changed. Along with the comment that if I ever expressed my displeasure at even more paperwork, changes for changes sake, etc. I was accused of still being mentally unstable! Even though I was mentally well and had been off medication for years!

Many of the feelings of severe stress had begun to affect me again - waking at all hours; feeling the car door was locked on arrival in the school car park; being negative to those around me because those above me were always wanting to pull me down or trip me up. Family life suffers because all you can think, eat, sleep is SCHOOL. As a teacher you are no longer empowered to do what you feel is right for the pupils in your care; to seize on their spontaneity for something because you have a plan to follow and woe betide you if you don't meet your targets - even if one of your pupils is suffering from a medically degenerative condition and just breathing is an achievement.

Children are sent into school often unwell and school is powerless to send them home so as a teacher you are in the firing line for every tummy bug, cough, flu, nits, worms that goes round. So physically you are shot at too.

As a result the children are being taught by increasingly poorly people; then supply teachers are called in to hold the fort. It is time that teachers did stand up to the bullying that goes on, in particular. It is unnecessary and quite frankly can verge on the criminal. It ruins and shatters lives. Some senior managers seem to lose their previous human personality as they go up the training ladder and the warm, caring, effective cultures in schools have been turned into 'businesses' at the very real human cost.

I am not surprised to read this report at all. The children are an absolute priviledge and joy to be with. It is the other 'stuff' that gets in the way. How many more families are to be affected by these issues until something is done to change the attitudes out there?

Elaine Hanzak

Monday, 5 April 2010

Radio 5 live and Billie Piper on postnatal depression.

I got an early morning Easter Monday call to be on Radio 5 live breakfast phone-in this morning
You should be able to listen again for 9 - 10.00 am.

Yesterday actress Billie Piper was in the news for admitting that she and her husband had suffered with postnatal depression following the birth of their son. I am always glad when celebrities 'come out' as it does give the media an opportunity to air the subject for the rest of us non-celebs!

Read about her here:

I was pleased the programme stressed about how it affects fathers too, which is good. Other issues such as staffing levels, care in the community, etc. were raised.

I was sorry I didn't get chance to offer some tips on recovery and to talk about my involvement with Ann Girling and The Wellbeing Project  about the pilot antenatal workshops we are doing.

Support and communication are the two main keys to recovery. Have a look at the advice section on my website. One comment was made on the programme that where the 'mother is mothered' the risk of postnatal illness is lessened. I agree with that but as the new mother you have to allow that to happen!

One lady also commented on the support she had got from a children's centre. So pleased Ann and I are doing training for them!

There were a few comments from people who have either had a good time as parents or no experience of depression and their ignorance and intolerance for those of us who have would be laughable if it wasn't so sad.

Happy Easter!

Elaine Hanzak

Friday, 2 April 2010

Physical therapy can reduce risk of postnatal depression in new mothers

A study shows physical therapy exercise program can reduce risk of postnatal depression in new mothers, a belief I have had since I was poorly with it and a healing strategy I share in my talks.

Thanks to the Mental Health Foundation for this bulletin.

ALEXANDRIA, VA – A physical therapy exercise and health education program is effective in improving postnatal well-being and reducing the risk for postnatal depression (PND), according to a randomized controlled trial published in the March issue of Physical Therapy, (PTJ) the scientific journal of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).
Postnatal depression (PND) is a major health issue affecting up to 13% of all new mothers throughout the world, with most cases beginning in the first 3 months of the postnatal period. Although its duration varies among mothers, it is thought to be determined by sociocultural factors, such as self-esteem of the mother, the childbirth experience, and the availability of support and local services.
Previous studies have shown that general exercise improves mood states in younger and older women, improves well-being, and leads to a reduction in depressive symptoms in mothers diagnosed with PND. However, no studies have evaluated the benefits of group physical therapy exercise approaches to improve psychological health outcomes of women postnatally.
"Giving birth involves many changes in a woman's physical, emotional, and social health," said Mary P. Galea, BAppSci (Physio), BA, PhD, Professor of Clinical Physiotherapy in the School of Physiotherapy at the University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, one of the authors of this study. "A group exercise program led by a physical therapist, who is an expert in improving and restoring motion to people's daily lives, can help mothers who may be at risk for PND improve their well-being and enable them to better care for their children."
In this study, 161 English-speaking women who were being discharged from the postnatal ward of The Angliss Hospital were randomly assigned to an experimental Mother & Baby (M&B) Program or an education only (EO) group. Once a week for 8 weeks the M&B group, comprised of 62 women, undertook 1 hour of exercise with their babies, facilitated by a women's health physical therapist, combined with 30 minutes of parenting education delivered by health care professionals. Seventy-three women were assigned to the EO group and received only the same written educational materials. Twenty-six of the women did not receive either of the allocated interventions.
Results revealed there was significant improvement in well-being scores and depressive symptoms of the M&B group compared with the EO group over the study period. More specifically, there was a significant positive effect on well-being scores and depressive scores at 8 weeks, and this score was maintained 4 weeks after completion of the program. The number of women identified as at risk for postnatal depression pre-intervention was reduced by 50 percent by the end of the intervention.
The primary outcome measure was a psychological well-being scale called the Positive Affect Balance Scale. This 10-question scale indicates psychological reactions of people in the general population to events in their daily lives. Participants also completed the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale and answered questions regarding the amount of physical activity performed each week. These outcome measures were assessed at baseline, after 8 weeks, and then 4 weeks later.

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) represents more than 74,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy nationwide. Learn more about conditions physical therapists can treat and find a physical therapist in your area at Consumers are encouraged to follow us on Twitter (@moveforwardpt) and Facebook.

See link here 

Elaine Hanzak