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childcare for a bipolar mum

(12 Posts)
owlborn Wed 26-Mar-14 13:55:17

Hi. This is all very theoretical at the moment, but I’d really appreciate some advice. I’m bipolar and my DH and I are talking about starting our family. My psychiatrist is supportive, and thinks that I can do this, with the proper planning. I would be staying on medication and hopefully all will go well. One thing DH and I have been talking about is childcare. I would quite like to go back to work, at least part time, and obviously DH needs to work and will be away fairly regularly (although not for more than a few days at a time).

Now, it’s entirely possible (indeed, this is what we’re hoping for) that I will be absolutely stable through my pregnancy and will cope brilliantly with a small child, but it’s also obviously possible that I will become unwell in the future (I’m also aware that childbirth is a tricky time for bipolar and I’m statistically more likely to have a relapse), and what I’m wanting to ask is whether this is something that will stop us being able to get childcare help, or if there is any specialist help that anyone knows about. I am guessing that an au pair would be right out, in case I did get ill (I think probably I wouldn’t want to inflict that on a young person who might be a long way from home and could be quite vulnerable) but I don’t know if there are any nannies out there who would consider working in a house where one parent was bipolar. Obviously, we would be upfront with any nanny at interview and would make sure she would always be able to contact someone if I did start behaving erratically in any way. I’m not asking for a nanny/MH nurse. I just want to know if the fact that I am bipolar would be enough to put a nanny off.

mrswishywashy Wed 26-Mar-14 15:08:19


I'm a maternity nurse and in the past have had a client who had bipolar. It was her second child so she was working very closely with her medical team for prevention and treatment. She was very open at the interview along with her husband and I was happy to accept the job. I stayed for eight weeks after the birth to give support and let the mum rest as much as possible as lack of sleep was a trigger for her. It worked well in that I had a daily email chat with the father so I could bring up any concerns as he knew signs as well and also I would ask the mother how she was. So I'm thinking its very possible to find a nanny to help especially if you're clear at interview and if you have a information sheet to email or give at interview that would be good too.

Marylou62 Wed 26-Mar-14 16:14:36

I am a mature nanny and as long as I knew when to ask for help and felt supported I would certainly have no qualms about this position. is there any way you could afford a maternity nurse like Mrswhishy? that sounds very helpful.

Treaclepot Wed 26-Mar-14 16:33:31

Hi Owl,

I'm bipolar I and quite lucky as I seem to have very long bouts between serious manic episodes. I managed to have 3 kids without going more than a little bit low after only one of them.

Things I would do that should help:

After the birth hunker down for a few weeks, most cultures (including ours til recently) had a long convalensce period.

It is a very stressful time after the birth, everyone finds this so be kind on yourself.

If you were going to breastfeed consider mix feeding so your DH can do some night time feeding.

From very early on get into good sleep practice with the baby ( putting to bed awake etc, I priorotsed this as sleep is a killer for me).

Good luck. smile

owlborn Wed 26-Mar-14 17:07:30

Thank you so much for all the replies! They are really super useful. I’m trying to be as careful as possible as I’ve not had a full blown manic episode in over two years and I’m really keen to keep that up. Both DH and I are going to try to be at home together for the first six weeks because that way he can do the night shift and I can sleep (lack of sleep is a massive trigger for me too) and if that’s not possible due to his job we are thinking about a maternity nurse, or getting a grandparent to come and help. I guess what I’m obsessing about at the moment is what happens longer term when DH has to go back to work. I think a nanny could be the right option for us (I had a nanny myself when I was little and have very fond memories) but I don’t want to put anyone in a situation re: my mental health that they aren’t comfortable with.

Marylou62 Wed 26-Mar-14 17:14:36

A good nanny is a good nanny and will cope with anything!! Put all your cards on the table so they know everything and let them know they will have lots of support. As a nanny I dealt with a very nasty divorce, a drunk father harassing me, death of a parent and serious illness. I would like to think that I helped but did find it very stressful sometimes and needed to debrief and have a wobbly before I knuckled down and dealt with it. Good Luck finding the right nanny for your future family...Ooooh how exciting!

Katiejon Wed 26-Mar-14 19:04:14

Homestart r wonderful.
Lots of luck and fun TTC.This

Katiejon Wed 26-Mar-14 19:05:06

Sorry, forgot to add sleep is a trigger 4 a lot of people, not just bipolar.

HeartsTrumpDiamonds Wed 26-Mar-14 19:22:09

I'm bipolar but unlike you was only diagnosed when DD1 was 4 and DD2 was 2. We all thought it was PND - or maybe it started as that and morphed... who knows...

Anyways we are pretty successful at it. It will be do-able, you just need tom put in place the right support. We have a nanny and she is wonderful, a real support, a real part of the family. It would have been much more difficult without her. She actually started as our cleaner and then gradually started babysitting and helping with DD2. I have since gone back to work full time and DH has a fairly full-on job and it all has fit into place.

I am VERY strict with myself about managing my illness. I'm no longer under the care of a psychiatrist (been stable for coming up to 5 years now) but am religious about things like taking my meds at the same time every day, same bedtime every night, get a good amount of daylight and exercise, and so on.

Depressive episodes don't scare me as much as manic ones. Depressions are harder on me but mania is more dangerous for everyone else, me and our bank account confused

Another thing that I take great comfort in is the (written) agreement DH and I have about what happens if I go off the rails again. He has discussed it with my boss and my parents/brother and it basically outlines what happens to me and to the DDs. I have agreed that if 3 out of a list of 4 people agree that I need referral or treatment, I will do it even if I don't agree (likely) grin

Sorry this was so long!

HSMMaCM Thu 27-Mar-14 07:56:43

Also ... Don't put pressure on yourself to try and be perfect after the birth. Even the fittest parents can have a wobble at such a stressful time.

A CM could also help while you're at work, but I would go with the nanny suggestions, as then you will get more help at home.

Blondeshavemorefun Thu 27-Mar-14 08:43:58

I have worked for a bipolar mum as a night nanny and as a perm nanny and as long as you are honest from the start it will be fine

Sleep is a major trigger so I would advise getting a mat nurse /night nanny in the very early days 7/14 days old if possible. They will get baby into a good routine and make sure you sleep

Agree about mixed feeding - again coz of sleep but I have always said to parents that doesn't hurt to introduce a bottle at a night feed so that dad came help/bond feeding and mum gets a break - whether formula feed or expressed milk - I say this to all my clients not just bi polar

Mn/nn will get bubs into a a routine day and night and when you go back to work whether a few months down the line or 9/12mths again be honest with the nanny. I got to recognize the signs early on with mb esp of she had forgotten to take her medicine. I kept in contact with db via text /email if I felt things weren't quite right

Once the mum had a total meltdown and her then 3yr didn't understand why mummy was doing xyz - but we agreed if was on
My shift that I would take control and remove child and I from any situations - this worked well

A nanny is part of the family and trust me we see /hear many things - so please don't be embarrassed if an incident happened

A professional nanny will cope as that is her job to look after the child/ren but also support the parents in whatever they need smile

MoelFammau Mon 31-Mar-14 23:31:23

I'm a bipolar mother to a 3 year old daughter. I found that my daughter is actually a bit of a stabiliser for me, though I have gone through some pretty bad episodes.

I think it's absolutely doable. You'll find the right nanny, definitely. Just like with everyone else you mention bipolar to, some will 'get' it and others won't. You'll find the nanny that clicks.

Good luck.

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