BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Postpartum psychosis is making headlines after Boston resident Lindsay Clancy is accused of killing her three children and attempting to take her own life. Her attorneys say she suffers from the condition.
Dr. Heather Skanes, owner of Oasis Women’s Health and the Oasis Family Birthing Center in Birmingham, tells CBS 42 that postpartum psychosis and depression are part of a nationwide mental health crisis.
Dr. Skanes said postpartum depression occurs in approximately 10% of women who have babies. She said the effects can be severe, so it’s critical to receive the best care during and after pregnancy.
She said postpartum psychosis is rarer than depression but receives significant attention because of symptoms like hallucinations. Dr. Skanes references Clancy’s case, who is accused of fatally strangling her 3 children due to the condition.
“Other people, it may be suicide and they’re the person that’s harmed, but we should not let it get that far,” Dr. Skanes said. “If we’re doing the proper measures with screening people and looking out for each other in the community, hopefully, we can avoid another loss of life.”
She says it can be hard to understand without seeing inside a mother’s mind, but that we must still acknowledge these are real medical conditions.
“You have to consider this a chronic disease just like you would your diabetes, your hypertension and that these are things that have to be taken care of and they have to be a priority,” said Dr. Skanes.
Jakiera Lucy is preparing to give birth to her third child. She says postpartum is a jarring transition that makes women feel trapped and lonely.
“That may not be their desire that, ‘I just want to hurt my baby’ or something like that, but it’s just, ‘I just want to get out of the cell that I feel like I’m in,’” Lucy said.
Lucy says your mind battles against a traumatic physical experience and it can be easy to lose yourself.
“So I don’t think that it’s a personal charger to the heart of the mother, it’s just the mother may be struggling just to get through to live and survive,” Lucy said.
Both Lucy and Dr. Skanes stress how important having a strong support system is in addition to proper medical care.
“Obviously, you’re not alone and I think that’s the most important thing,” said Dr. Skanes. “You’re not at fault. This is a chemical imbalance. There’s nothing that you did that would cause you to undergo this, but it does require treatment and close follow-up.”
Dr. Skanes says preparing for postpartum is key during pregnancy and that anyone experiencing a postpartum journey should consistently consult with their primary healthcare provider to discuss the best method of treatment for them.
To show support for anyone having a baby or those who have just had one, the Oasis Family Birthing Center will be hosting a community baby shower on Feb. 25. The center is located at 401 Tuscaloosa Ave SW, Ste 120 in Birmingham. For more information, you can contact the center via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.