Shelley Blanchard
Media playback is unsupported on your device

Mother with bi-polar disorder on problems after birth

People affected by postpartum psychosis, or puerperal psychosis, a mental illness which affects one in 500 new mothers and can result in suicide or them killing their baby, have been recounting their experiences to BBC Newsnight.

Experts do not know the exact cause of postpartum psychosis, although the massive hormonal changes that follow childbirth are believed to play a role, along with genetics.

A proportion of new mothers are more at risk than most - women with bi-polar disorder have a one in two chance of becoming severely ill in the weeks after giving birth.

Shelley Blanchard, who was in this category, talks about her problems following the birth of her son.

For details of organisations which offer advice and support, go online to or call the BBC Action Line to hear recorded information on 08000 933 193. Lines are open 24 hours and are free from a landline. Mobile operators will charge.

Watch Newsnight's full film on postpartum psychosis on Tuesday 21 August 2012 at 10.30pm on BBC Two, then afterwards on the BBC iPlayer and Newsnight website.

  • 21 Aug 2012
  • From the section Health