Indian Journal of PsychiatryIndian Journal of Psychiatry
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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 57  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 290-294

The establishment of a mother-baby inpatient psychiatry unit in India: Adaptation of a Western model to meet local cultural and resource needs

1 Department of Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Psychiatric Social Work, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Prabha S Chandra
Department of Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0019-5545.166621

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Background: Several Western countries have established mother-baby psychiatric units for women with mental illness in the postpartum; similar facilities are however not available in most low and medium income countries owing to the high costs of such units and the need for specially trained personnel. Materials and Methods: The first dedicated inpatient mother-baby unit (MBU) was started in Bengaluru, India, in 2009 at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in response to the growing needs of mothers with severe mental illness and their infants. We describe the unique challenges faced in the unit, characteristics of this patient population and clinical outcomes. Results: Two hundred and thirty-seven mother-infant pairs were admitted from July 2009 to September 2013. Bipolar disorder and acute polymorphic psychosis were the most frequent primary diagnosis (36% and 34.5%). Fifteen percent of the women had catatonic symptoms. Suicide risk was present in 36 (17%) mothers and risk to the infant by mothers in 32 (16%). Mother-infant bonding problems were seen in 98 (41%) mothers and total breastfeeding disruption in 87 (36.7%) mothers. Eighty-seven infants (37%) needed an emergency pediatric referral. Ongoing domestic violence was reported by 42 (18%). The majority of the mother infant dyads stayed for <4 weeks and were noted to have improved at discharge. However, 12 (6%) mothers had readmissions during the study period of 4 years. Disrupted breastfeeding was restituted in 75 of 87 (86%), mother infant dyads and mother infant bonding were normal in all except ten mothers at discharge. Conclusions: Starting an MBU in a low resource setting is feasible and is associated with good clinical outcomes. Addressing risks, poor infant health, breastfeeding disruption, mother infant bonding and ongoing domestic violence are the challenges during the process.



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