Pregnancy & Birth

Antiques Roadshow expert dies after suspected postnatal psychosis

The jewellery valuer believed her baby was communicating with her telepathically.

A jewellery expert from UK television series Antique Roadshow died days after being restrained by emergency staff after suffering suspected postpartum psychosis, an inquest has heard.

Alice Gibson-Watt, 34, had to be restrained by five police and ambulance staff after she experienced delusions that her five-week-old baby was communicating with her telepathically.

The suspected postpartum psychosis, which can cause hallucinations and paranoia, caused Gibson-Watt to crawl around her bed on all fours shouting her daughter was unsafe.

Gibson-Watt fought like “a tigress” against members of emergency services when they arrived to take her to the hospital.

Her husband Anthony called is mother-in-law who arrived to find her daughter in the back of the ambulance.

“She was alarmingly strapped down with five people holding her down at the time,” she told the court.

The new mum suffered a ruptured liver and internal bleeding after the episode, West London Coroner’s Court heard.

The inquest, which began on Tuesday, will determine whether the way the mother was restrained while being taken to hospital caused her injuries.

“Neither Alice or I were at all aware of postpartum psychosis,” Mr Gibson-Watts said while giving evidence.

“What happened that first night was deeply traumatic and wholly unlike my dear wife Alice.

“After some 48 hours of her arrival at Lakeside Mental health unit, I was somewhat relieved she was in the right place to start receiving treatment.

“How wrong that turned out to be.”

He concluded his short statement by saying, “She was enthralled by motherhood. One day I will tell our daughter more about her wonderful mother.

“I just hope now finally we get as close as possible to the truth of her passing.”

What is postnatal psychosis?

Postnatal psychosis is a rare condition, according to the Mental Health Foundation. In most cases it begins within the first two to four weeks following the birth of a baby but can occur later than this. Mood disturbances and being out of touch with reality (psychosis) are the key signs of postnatal psychosis.

There are three types of childbirth-related depression that are talked about:

Postnatal or maternity blues are very common. A new mother feels down and tearful in the week after her baby is born. This feeling passes after a few days.

Postnatal depression, a more serious condition, is also common. The mother becomes seriously depressed in the first months following the baby’s birth. It can occur any time during the baby’s first year.

Postnatal psychosis involves symptoms of psychosis (being out of touch with reality) associated with changes in mood – either a depressed or an extremely high mood. It usually begins in the first two weeks after the child is born.

One of the police officers involved in restraining Gibson-Watt, PC Sue Thomson, said she was screaming so loudly it was hard to hear the paramedic and she appeared to be “trying to bite out at someone’s arms”.

When Gibson-Watt arrived at the hospital, she was given a sedative to calm her.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Miriam Barrett, of the North West London mental health trust, told the inquest that during a “normal conversation” with Gibson-Watt the next morning, she said “she could hear the baby speaking to her and it was saying to her that it was dead”.

“She was convinced that she was communicating with her baby and the baby could communicate with her,” Barrett said. “The baby was part of her delusions and that is where the risk arose.”

The inquest is expected to continue until late April.

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