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Perinatal Mental Health Service

 M and B hand

The Leeds Perinatal Mental Health Service provides specialist input to women experiencing significant mental health difficulties during pregnancy and the first year following a child's birth. A variety of treatment options are available, most commonly on an out-patient basis. The service also provides in-patient care at the Yorkshire and Humber Mother and Baby Unit.

Interventions available include:

  • Preconception Counselling
  • Care Planning for the perinatal period
  • Specialist advice on risks and benefits of medication in  pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • Community Nurse visits
  • Nursery Nurse sessions
  • Baby Massage
  • Jabbadao -group play sessions for mothers and babies
  • Watch, Wait and Wonder-a mother infant intervention to improve attachment andcommunication
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy-screening for CBT and short term therapy may be offered for perinatal difficulties
  • Liaison with other professionals
  • Signposting to other useful services
  • Inpatient assessment and treatment at the Yorkshire and Humber Mother and Baby Unit

Contact details

The Perinatal Mental Health Service The Mount Hospital 44 Hyde Terrace Leeds LS2 9LN

Out-patients: 0113 8555505 Mother and Baby Unit: 0113 8555509 Community nurses: 0113 8555650 Fax: 0113 8555506

Leeds Mother and Baby Unit

The Yorkshire and Humber Mother and Baby Unit provides an in-patient environment where mothers experiencing severe mental health difficulties can receive treatment and support while continuing to care for their baby. Most women experiencing mental health difficulties will be able to remain at home and receive treatment. In some cases when a mother is severely unwell, treatment in hospital may be indicated. The Mother and Baby Unit is a small, safe friendly unit with specialist staff who work to enable mothers to recover from difficulties and return home with appropriate support.

Who is the unit for? You may benefit from admission if:

  • You have a history of a serious psychiatric disorder such as schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder or severe depression and need in-patient care during the perinatal period.
  • You experience an episode of postpartum psychosis: This is a rare but serious disorder which can include changes in thinking (delusions) or unusual experiences (hearing or seeing things), confusion, severe anxiety, overactivity and changes in behaviour. It is very treatable but due to its severity admission to hospital is usually necessary.
  • You experience an episode of significant depression or anxiety, particularly if this is affecting your bond with your baby.

What are the benefits of admission?
The benefits of admission include:

  • Provision of 24 hour medical and nursing support by staff experienced in the treatment of perinatal difficulties
  • The minimal disruption to/enhancement of the mother-infant relationship
  • Monitoring and support of parenting skills
  • Regular review of progress and treatment. As an in-patient, changes can be made on a daily basis where appropriate.
  • A better understanding of complex difficulties and development of a treatment plan

What support will I receive on the unit?
The unit is staffed by doctors, nurses, nursery nurses, health support workers, with input from an occupational therapist. Your midwife or health visitor will remain involved in your care, visiting you on the unit and attending care planning meetings. If you live a long distance from the unit, a health visitor from the local area can offer temporary input.

Wherever possible, you are encouraged to provide the care of your baby, you will be supported by the staff to do this. It is common for mothers to need a high level of support when first admitted and you may initially have a member of staff with you at all times. This level of support is reduced as your health improves and you gain confidence in caring for your baby.

What treatment am I likely to receive? This will depend on the nature of your difficulties. A period of assessment is sometimes required before agreeing on a treatment plan. Possible treatments include:

  • Medication
  • One to one supportive counselling
  • Play sessions
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Nursery nurse input
  • Therapeutic mother-infant interventions
  • Relaxation/anxiety management

You will have two review meetings each week with the team members involved in your care to review progress and plan further interventions.

What is the unit like? The unit has five single rooms, each with a bed, washbasin, cot and wardrobe. There is a shared in-patient lounge with television, DVD player and music system. There is a kitchen area with fridge, microwave and toaster. There are individual facilities for preparing bottles and a laundry room. There are quiet areas for visiting, a conservatory and enclosed courtyard. We have a nursery well equipped with toys for infants.

Will my baby and I be safe on the unit? The unit is only accessible to designated staff. There is a video-intercom system controlling the entry of patients and visitors. We continually make assessments of patient and infant safety. Where a risk cannot be managed on the Mother and Baby Unit, a mother may temporarily need to be transferred to an alternative unit.

How often can people visit? Can older children visit? We try to be flexible with visiting times; generally visits are allowed between 11.30am and 9pm. It is important to strike a balance between having sufficient contact with your family and benefiting from time with staff on the unit. Older children are welcome to visit but must be supervised at all times by a responsible adult. If the unit is very busy or visitors are disruptive, they may be asked to leave.

How long will I need to be in hospital? This will vary depending on your needs but typical admissions are between a few weeks and a few months. As your health improves, you will spend increasing amounts of time at home-starting with a few hours initially, building up to spending several days at home before discharge.

What support will I receive on discharge?  A planning meeting will be arranged prior to discharge to ensure you are well supported. You may have ongoing input from a community nurse and clinic appointments. You may start to attend local mother and baby groups or have support from your health visitor or local children’s centre.

Can I smoke on the unit? Smoking is not allowed within the hospital building. There is a smoking shelter within the courtyard. If you would like help to stop smoking, this can be provided.

I am worried people will think I can’t care for my baby, or my baby may be taken away. We understand that this is a common worry but it is very rare for a baby to be removed from their family. Many women are able to care very well for their baby despite experiencing mental health problems; others will need additional support at times. It is possible to have severe mental health problems in the perinatal period and make a full recovery. Where appropriate we liaise closely with Children and Young People’s Social Care in order to provide support to keep families together and to safeguard children.

How do I access the service? We take referrals from midwives, health visitors, obstetricians, GPs and Community Mental Health Teams. Where possible we arrange an assessment appointment on the unit to discuss your needs and familiarise you with the unit. In an emergency we may admit a mother without prior assessment in order not to delay treatment.

Preconception Counselling

We provide preconception counselling to women at risk of developing significant mental health difficulties during pregnancy or postnatally. This is recommended if you have experienced serious mental health difficulties such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, severe depression or previous postpartum psychosis. Even if you have been well for many months or years it is important to be aware of the possibility of relapse in the perinatal period and to discuss the options should this occur.

If you have a family history of Postpartum psychosis or bipolar disorder, it is also advisable to be counselled on the risks of becoming unwell and management options.

If you are planning a pregnancy, you may benefit from meeting with a member of our team to discuss the following:

  •  Your individual risk of becoming unwell in the perinatal period
  • Whether treatment will be beneficial during pregnancy and postnatally
  • Risks and benefits of different medication during pregnancy and in breastfeeding; this may include meeting with a pharmacist and discussing the most recent information on medication
  • Relapse prevention strategies
  • Support and monitoring during pregnancy and post delivery
  • Early warning signs of illness
  • Care available should you become unwell

Preconception counselling takes place at the Perinatal Mental Health Service at The Mount Hospital. In most cases a single 90 minute appointment is sufficient, sometimes a follow up appointment is arranged to discuss things further.

The preconception counselling clinic provides consultation, information and advice, not ongoing care. Referral to our service for treatment may be one of our recommendations should you become pregnant.

You may wish to bring your partner to the appointment to involve them in understanding risks and treatment decisions.

With your consent we usually send a copy of the clinic letter to your GP and other relevant professionals involved in your care. They will then be aware of the recommendations and your wishes regarding treatment when you are trying to conceive or become pregnant. You will be offered a copy of any letters sent.

If you are registered with a Leeds GP practice, you can be referred for preconception counselling by your GP or Community Mental Health Team. Our referral form is available here.

Information for Referrers

Please click here to download our referral guidelines document.