"How the parent and baby unit helped me"

About: North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust / Perinatal psychiatry

(as the patient),

This is my opinion regarding the parent and baby unit at Bucknall Hospital, Stoke on Trent.

In July 2010 I gave birthday to a little baby boy after a huge gap of 15 years, i bought him home and was determined to be a great mum, but i ended up feeling like i couldn't cope, scared of everything and everyone, frightened to go out and frightened to open my door to anyone.

I didn't even trust my family to hold my baby boy or take him for a little walk to give me a little break, i was waking in panic when i tried to rest to check my little boy was ok, i was suffering from post natal depression.

I was referred to the mother and baby unit at Bucknall hospital and at first i made excuses to not go due to not wanting be around people, the reception staff persevered with me when i'd ring in a panic to cancel and reassured me i was ok.

Eventually, after one of the staff nurses told me i could have my assesment appointment on a sunday as it was open at weekends and that i could take my baby boy in with me, i felt a little relief as i knew not many people would be around on a sunday.

I attended my assesment as i see a nervous wreck, but i came out of the unit that sunday with a glimmer of hope. I was offered counselling as a lot of issues i hadn't quite dealt with in my past were coming back up in my mind, i remember all i wanted do at that moment in time was to trust someone, i eventually did.

I eventually trusted the nursery nurses in the creche to look after my baby boy while i had my counselling and they would bring him to me if he was too upset as at that moment in time he was experiencing separation anxiety.

The nursery nurses were brilliant with not only my son but me as well, they'd help me when i was experiencing high anxiety and calm me down enough to attend for creche support.

I remember finishing my first cup of tea since i gave birth in the creche, as the nursery nurses helped me, they helped me with my anxieties over feeding and all sorts of the first stage of motherhood, i'd got a daughter 15 and a son 17 so i'd done it before but i forgot and with changes over the years i felt overwhelmed. Being in the creche and meeting other mothers who felt similar to myself was really supportive, i couldn't face a sure start centre as i was too scared of being judged and to scared to trust.

I remember being asked to attend the coffee mornings at the unit and being terrified, when eventually i did go i loved attending, it would give me a good start to the week. And in the end i was like a permanent fixture!

I attended a relationship and play course with my little boy which helped me loads with bonding with him and i attended a depression and anxiety course which i found really interesting and useful.

All this helped me to gain not only trust in people again but trust in my abilities as a mother, i was referred to the sure start centre where a support worker met me and helped me find my feet at the stay and play groups which i wouldn't of attended if it hadn't been for the support from the unit and i embraced an opportunity that came my way through the unit of volunteering at the cafe in the Harplands hospital.

My counsellor helped me with this, she helped me to find my way in order to meet the staff there and get through my anxieties in order to start there, i started there august of this year and i have being asked to volunteer in the garden there now, i absolutely love it and i have started to love life again, my relationship with my baby boy is really strong. I can cope and i can be a good mother!

The unit was a godsend to me, the staff there were non-judgemental, supportive, understanding and trustworthy even the reception staff understood my anxieties i remember one of them calming me down on the phone because i was worried about driving to the unit in the snow, it was good knowing as well that i could ring anytime and be heard.

I've been discharged from the unit since July of this year and i'm not saying everything is all going well, i am having little hurdles to jump over, but with the help of the unit i feel empowered to get on with things.

I am really thankful to all the staff there as i dread to think where i would be now, they helped me to help myself.

I am aware that the unit is going to be moved. I just hope that the unit doesn't change in any way as i feel really passionate about it and i worry for the future of other mums who may feel like i felt. Its not a nice place to be!! I was disappointed to hear the unit wasn't going to moved to Hanley as that would have been an ideal location due to the bus route, making it easily accessible, i was even more disappointed to hear that the unit might be split as i think it should stay exactly the same, why change something that works well as it is?

In my opinion it wouldn't work as well, the unit has everything needed all under one roof making the anxieties the mums experience easier to control. I for one felt less isolated going to the unit as opposed to receiving the service in my home and i also began to feel motivated when i had to go there to get help, i really hope it stays the same as the unit is like i said above a godsend to many mums. Its like a lifeline.

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Response from North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust We are preparing to make a change

Thank you very much for taking the time to post your comments on Patient Opinion. Your comments regarding the staff and the overall support you have received from the Parent and Baby Unit have been shared with the team. The comments have also been forwarded to appropriate managers and staff within the Trust for inclusion in the Phase 1 Model of Care Consultation. Your comments, along with other feedback received via questionnaires, letters and public meetings will be collated, independently analyzed and a final report produced.

The report will be presented at appropriate Boards and Committees before the Department of Health consider the outcome of the consultation. The report and final outcome will be published and cascaded via a number of routes including local networks, the Trust web site and links via Patient Opinion.

With kind regards