Puerperal Psychosis

What is Puerperal Psychosis?

Puerperal Psychosis is a rare condition, affecting around 1 or 2 in a 1000 new mum’s.  It occurs suddenly, usually in the first six week after the baby is born, and often in the first few days.  It is sometimes known as Postpartum Psychosis or Postnatal Psychosis.


It is a very severe illness, but the disturbance in mum’s mental state is obvious to those around her, so it is easily spotted.  It can appear with no warning but the risk is increased if a mum has suffered previously, or has a history of mental illness, particularly bipolar disorder.


Symptoms of Puerperal Psychosis

Symptoms are very varied and can be rapidly changing.  They can include:

  • Elation, excitability and over activity
  • Low mood and despair
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Not needing to rest or sleep
  • Obsessive behaviour
  • Significant anxiety
  • Losing touch with reality, with hallucinations or unusual beliefs

Occasionally mum’s can have thoughts about harming themselves or even their baby.


Treatment of Puerperal Psychosis

Treatment of Puerperal Psychosis usually involves medication for a time, and mum’s may require admission to hospital.  Where possible mums and babies are kept together, and admission to specialised mother and baby units can be considered.  The family needs to be closely involved throughout this time.  Treatment is usually very successful and recovery quite rapid.  After mum’s go home with their baby they are usually supported by a Community Mental Health Team for a time, to support with complete recovery.

Support Groups

We have been working closely with Pentreath an award winning mental health charitable organisation to recruit, train and support volunteers who have been running a fabulously successful support group at the Children’s Centre in Falmouth. 


This group has now come to an end.  From the Angela Harrison Charitable Trust we want to say a big thank you to the volunteers who committed valuable time and energy in setting up and maintaining these support groups to help and inspire the mums involved.

News & events


County Perinatal Services Expand following Funding Boost

After successfully obtaining additional funding from NHS England, the Perinatal Mental Health Service has expanded significantly and is now able to offer a more enhanced service across Cornwall. Mandy Raywood, Specialist Perinatal Team Leader said, “Our target group are women who have a significant mental illness or been identified as at risk of developing one […]

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Exciting Times for the Perinatal Team

The Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Team have been successful in their application to NHS England for additional funding to expand the existing perinatal team. We have recently shortlisted 5 candidates for interview for 2 band 6 Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Nurse posts and will be interviewing just before Christmas. We will also be advertising for […]

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