She Wanted to Be the Perfect Mom, Then Landed in a Psychiatric Unit


From WJCT: “There’s plenty of research, dating back to the 1940s, on the ideal protocols for inpatient treatment of postpartum mental illnesses. The gold standard is to admit the mother and the baby into the hospital together, on a specialized mother-baby unit, where they’re treated as a pair.

Part of the mom’s therapy in these units is getting guidance on how to read the baby’s cues and how to meet the baby’s needs — as well as her own. At night, the baby sleeps in a supervised nursery, so the mom can get uninterrupted sleep.

In the United Kingdom, there are 21 of these mother-baby psychiatric units. In France, there are 15. They exist in Belgium and New Zealand and one in India.

But in the U.S., there are zero.

The closest approximation can be found in North Carolina, 3,000 miles from where [new mother Lisa Abramson] lives, in the hospital at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. […]

[New mother] Alice Sarti says mental hospitals in the U.S. are just warehousing people. Only the mom’s unit felt like a place of healing.

‘It’s a different kind of place,’ she says. ‘It’s the type of mental health care that everyone should have access to — not just mothers. That’s what mental health care in this country should look like. And it doesn’t come close.’

Right now, UNC is the only hospital in the country that has a designated psych unit just for pregnant women and new moms. A hospital in New York has a women-only unit. And El Camino Hospital, where Dhami practices in California, will soon start construction on a women-only psych unit, with a special focus on the needs of new moms. It is slated to open in 2019.”

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