You and your wife, partner or girlfriend may need to speak to more than one health professional.
There may be a lot of medical words that you don’t understand. That’s okay, don’t feel you should know everything.
Health staff are happy to help, so if you don’t understand something, please ask.
These are some questions you may want to ask of health staff.
- What are the medications?
- How do they work?
- What impact will they have on the pregnancy or the baby?
- What is the Mental Health Act?
- How do I contact you and the team?
- Can I get a sick note for my work?
- How will I know they are getting better or worse? What signs should I look out for?
Child and family health nurse
- How do I help express and store breastmilk?
- How do I use formula?
- My baby is crying and not sleeping. What do I do?
- I need help taking care of the baby, where can I get that from?
- Is my baby developing normally?
- Where can I learn more about parenting?
- Can we get help during labour and just after the baby is born?
- What are the different ways we can feed our baby?
- Can we get support in hospital after the birth?
Mental health worker
A mental health worker can be a psychologist, nurse, social worker or occupational therapist.
- What kind of counselling or talking therapies might be helpful?
- What are some things I can do to help my partner so they may recover from depression and reduce their anxiety?
- Can you help with Department of Justice, Community Services or Centrelink?
- Can you help me talk to my partner's boss or workplace? I don't know what to say.
Peer support worker
Peer support workers are people who have had mental illness and are now part of the mental health team. You can talk to them about what it is like struggling with perinatal distress.
- What did it feel like?
- What helped you?
- What extra support do you think she needs?
The inpatient team
If your partner gets admitted to hospital, these are some things you should think about.
- Ask for a doctor’s letter to show your manager so you can ask for time off work.
- Ask for a paper copy of the treatment plan.
- Ask about medications. What are the side effects? How do they work? How do long they take to work? Is there a reason why her medication might change?
- Ask about other treatments that are available and how they work.
- Ask if you can be there for the ward round or case review.
- Get the phone numbers for the staff nursing station and your partner’s hospital room.
- Find out how to contact the psychiatry team, consultant and registrar.
- Ask which staff member is looking after your partner each day. Find out their name and ask as many questions as you need.
- Ask what items you can bring in for your partner to make things as comfortable for her
- Find out what your rights are as a carer.
- Ask when you can bring your baby for visits and if there is a special room for visitors.
- Your partner may be admitted to hospital under the Mental Health Act. Find out when the magistrate hearing will take place. Will she need legal representation?
- Your partner may be breastfeeding. Can she get help to express milk? Is there a safe storage of the breastmilk?
Although this resource is aimed at dads, the information is helpful for all new parents and carers regardless of gender, who are coping with perinatal mental illness.