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Arch Womens Ment Health. 2004 Feb;7(1):89-93. Epub 2003 Dec 23.

Treatment of maternal mood disorder and infant behaviour disturbance in an Australian private mothercraft unit: a follow-up study.

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  • 1Key Centre for Women's Health in Society, School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


Australia has a system of residential parentcraft services which offer brief admissions to mothers experiencing difficulties with infant care and postnatal mood disturbance. Most of these are state-funded public access services. In 1996 a comparable but differentiated service was opened in the private sector. Masada Private Hospital Mother Baby Unit accommodates five mother-infant pairs who are admitted to a five-night structured residential program. Care is provided by a multidisciplinary team comprising a paediatrician, general practitioner, clinical psychologist and specialist nurses. Complex maternal mood disorders as measured on standardised psychometric instruments include depression, anxiety and severe occupational fatigue. Their babies are unsettled, cry for prolonged periods, wake frequently at night and do not sleep well during the day. Many have feeding difficulties. The treatment program comprises both individualised training in infant care and settling strategies and psycho-educational groups offered in a supportive non-judgemental setting. One month post-discharge maternal mood is significantly improved and infant behaviour more manageable compared with functioning on admission.

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