Monday 20 September 2021
Pregnant women and new mothers experiencing mental illness will soon have access to specialist care alongside their babies at NSW’s second Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) at Westmead Hospital.
The new eight-bed unit will provide multidisciplinary support to up to 120 women each year and be accessible to new mums and mums-to-be from across NSW who require care in a hospital for a perinatal mental illness.
The unit will offer integrated mental health care with access to maternity, obstetric, paediatric and other medical services.
It has been co-designed with women with a lived experience of mental illness, their families and clinicians to ensure it meets the needs of women who will access the service, as well as create a family-friendly environment for partners and siblings.
Co-design committee member and mother of three, Emma Britton said the unit will provide a safe place where women can gain the strength and courage to get back out into the world as a healthier person.
“I also hope it can provide support to the extended families, who will be the networks needed to hold up these Mums as they continue to navigate their new parenthood journey back at home,” Ms Britton said.
Each of the eight bedrooms at the MBU will accommodate a mother, up to two infants under 12-months of age and a partner or family member.
The MBU will include space and equipment for antenatal care, a 24-hour respite nursery, mothercraft room, play area, retreat room and communal areas to accommodate multiple families with children.
Construction of the Westmead MBU is expected to start in late 2021 and will be completed in 2022.
The new unit is part of NSW Government’s $700 million Statewide Mental Health Infrastructure Program – the single biggest investment in mental health infrastructure to date.
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Image above: Emma Britton with her three children
Image above: Artist impression of the new unit