Amy Perry, one of the lead researchers, shares an update on the project so far and appeals for more women with bipolar to get involved.

As many of you may know, our research has a special focus on learning more about perinatal mental health in women with mood disorders. Over the last few years, we have been very busy speaking with women about their experiences of postpartum psychosis, and also to women with bipolar disorder who are pregnant. We hope this research will help us learn more about factors that may influence risk of mood episodes during the perinatal period, providing clues to the causes of these episodes and also helping women to make important decisions when planning pregnancy.

The BDRN pregnancy study is one of the largest of its kind and so far, more than 130 women from all over the UK have kindly participated, many of whom are also Bipolar UK members. We would like to thank each and every one of you for taking the time to help us with this important research. We wouldn’t be able to do this research without volunteers like you and every woman who takes part is helping to make a difference in an area of much needed research.

Our findings at this stage are very preliminary and we need data from many more women to be confident.  So far we have suggestive evidence that women who experience an episode of mania or psychosis during pregnancy are at greater risk of postpartum psychosis but not of postnatal depression. Our initial data also suggest that psychosocial factors during pregnancy (such as experiencing an adverse life event or level of emotional support) although important, may not be a major factor influencing whether or not a woman experiences postpartum psychosis. With the help of more women we can start to look in more depth and begin to understand the reasons for these findings.

Dr Marisa Casanova Dias (a consultant perinatal psychiatrist) is one of our newest members of BDRN and together, with further funding from the Medical Research Council (MRC), we will be interviewing more women in pregnancy over the coming months.

If you have bipolar disorder and are currently pregnant or if you have experienced an episode of postpartum psychosis in the past, we would be delighted to hear from you.

Find out more about the BDRN  and its Pregnancy and childbirth study, and sign up for the research.