New mother and baby mental health unit completed at Westmead Hospital

Pregnant women and new mothers experiencing mental illness will have access to specialist care alongside their babies at the state’s second purpose-built Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) at Westmead Hospital in the Westmead Health Precinct.

Premier Dominic Perrottet and Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor visited the new facility and the unit’s specialist team on Tuesday 28 February in anticipation of the full operation of the unit next month.

The new state-wide facility is designed to keep families together when a mother requires hospitalisation for a severe perinatal mental illness.

The eight-bed unit, based at Redbank House on the Westmead Hospital campus, will be staffed by specialist perinatal health professionals who can attend to the mental health needs of the mother, as well as facilitate appropriate care of the baby and promote positive mother-baby interactions.

The new unit will enable up to 120 women each year to receive specialist multi-disciplinary mental health care providing access to maternity, obstetric, paediatric and other medical services.

The state-wide service will be available to western Sydney residents, as well as those from other metro, rural and regional areas in NSW. Each bedroom is large enough to accommodate a mother, their baby and a partner, and has been specially designed to meet different levels of care.

The unit will also offer patients a landscaped outdoor area for exercise, relaxation and family visits and will also include space and equipment for antenatal care, a 24-hour respite nursery, a parent craft room, a retreat room, and consultation and group therapy rooms.

The unit 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.

Professor Bill Brakoulias, Mental Health Executive Director at Western Sydney Local Health District, said the Westmead MBU is a welcome addition to the mental health services delivered in Western Sydney.

“Greater Western Sydney is a rapidly growing region with the highest birth rate in NSW,” Prof Brakoulias said.

The proportion of women receiving antenatal care in the first trimester is high and regular antenatal care is associated with better maternal health in pregnancy, fewer interventions in late pregnancy and positive child health outcomes.”

The Westmead Mother and Baby Mental Health Unit is being delivered as part of the NSW Government’s $700 million Statewide Mental Health Infrastructure Program.  New inpatient units have been delivered or are underway in Albury, Blacktown, Broken Hill, Campbelltown, Royal Prince Alfred, Nepean and Tamworth. 

Channel 9 Exclusive – aired 1 March 2023

Westmead Hospital has been providing specialist care to women and babies from New South Wales since 1978 and more families choose to birth their babies supported by Westmead Hospital staff than any other hospital in NSW. 

This project is another major investment in mental health for Western Sydney communities, with the NSW Government also committing $460 million towards a new Integrated Mental Health Complex at the Westmead Health Precinct.