Treating Mother and Baby in Conjoint Hospitalization in a Psychiatric Hospital
Shmuel Maizel, Vladislav Fainstein, Sarah K. Katzenelson
Dept. B, Eitanim Mental Health Center, Jerusalem
Since 1990 we have been admitting mothers with postpartum psychiatric morbidity together with their babies to our open psychiatric ward. The aim of conjoint hospitalization is to maintain and develop the bond between mother and baby while treating the mother's psychiatric disorder. The presence of the infant in the hospital allows both a thorough evaluation of the mothers' maternal ability and to use the infant as a facilitator of the mothers' recovery by engaging maternal functions. It prevents the infants from being placed in a foster home for the duration of the mothers' hospitalization. Readily available in Britain and Australia, such conjoint hospitalization is controversial and rarely available elsewhere. In the past 5 years we hospitalized 10 women with 11 babies (1 woman was hospitalized twice, after different births). All women had received psychiatric treatment prior to childbirth, but this was the first psychiatric hospitalization for 2 of them. Diagnoses (DSM-IIIR) were chronic paranoid schizophrenia (4), disorder (4), schizo-affective schizophrenia (1) and borderline disorder (1). 8 were suffering from active psychotic symptoms on admission. They were treated pharmacologically, received individual and group psychotherapy, and participated in all ward activities. Families were engaged in marital, family and/or individual therapy according to need. All participated in cognitive-behavior treatment tailored to individual need to build and enrich the mother-infant bond. All improved significantly and were able to function independently on discharge, but in 1 case adoption was recommended.