Mother, Daughter and Childs Daughter

Women and Newborn Health Service

Services A - Z


King Edward Memorial Hospital

Mother Baby Unit

The Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) functions as a state-wide authorised inpatient treatment centre for acute psychiatric conditions in the postnatal period.

A part of the Women and Newborn Health Service, the Mother Baby Unit is located adjacent to King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women (KEMH).

Contact Information

Contact Information

Phone (08) 9340 1799
Freecall - 1800 422 588
Fax (08) 9340 1790

The Mother and Baby Unit
11 Loretto Street
Subiaco WA 6008

Map Please see our map of KEMH

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What We Offer

Women and their babies 0-12 months may be admitted to the inpatient program if they have significant mental health problems following the birth of a baby such as severe depression, anxiety or a psychotic illness such as a bipolar mood disorder or schizophrenia.

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The Unit

The eight bed, free-standing unit is situated in Subiaco within the campus of the Women and Newborn Health Service. It includes:

  • Eight single rooms with ensuite
  • Facilities for partners to stay when appropriate
  • A nursery and sleep rooms for babies when they are not rooming-in
  • A laundry
  • A kitchen and milk preparation kitchen
  • Several living rooms

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Admission Criteria

Women who have one or more babies aged 12 months of age or younger and have moderate to severe mental health problems that severely impacts on or inhibits their level of functioning and/or ability to parent are eligible for referral to MBU. Moderate to severe mental illness in this sense includes an Axis I diagnosis of:

  • Psychosis
  • Bipolar Mood Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Schizo-Affective Disorder
  • Severe Anxiety Disorders
  • Major Depressive Disorder (including Perinatal Depression)

Women must also meet the following criteria:

1: Medical clearance from infectious disease and illness

Women and their baby/babies will only be admitted if they are medically clear from infection diseases and illness and/or are a minimum 48 hours clear of symptoms of recent illness.

2: Women experiencing drug and alcohol dependence or withdrawal are not eligible for admission

Substance abuse and alcohol use is NOT tolerated on the ward and women with substance and alcohol dependence will only be considered for admission following completion of withdrawal and detox. Women requiring admission to MBU who are experiencing drug or alcohol dependence will be required to complete a detox program prior to admission and link in with an ongoing recovery program.

3: Woman and baby/babies will be admitted to MBU together

Women are expected to bring their baby/babies under the age of 12 months to stay at MBU during the time of their admission. As MBU provides services for both the mother and baby it is unable to accommodate women without their baby/babies.

Additional Referral Information:
  • Mothers must be able to be cared for in an open environment
  • As their mental health improves mothers will be expected to provide care to their baby
  • Baby is to be under 12 months of age, ambulatory status may exclude admission
Co-sleeping is not permitted on the Mother and Baby Unit in line with state-wide SIDS informed policy.

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Exclusion Criteria

  • Mothers with solely substance use issues
  • Mothers requiring respite care
  • Mothers displaying high levels of arousal and acute behavioural disturbance
  • Mothers presenting with a high level of absconding risk

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Referral Process

Referrals are accepted from any medical practitioner or health professional. Those from the community that have not yet been assessed by a mental health professional or GP may be redirected in the first instance.

  • Access the MBU referral form via this link MBU referral form or call MBU for a faxed copy of the referral form.  Mother and Baby Unit ph: 08 9340 1799.
  • Fill out the referral form (this can be typed or hand written).
  • Once the referral form is completed return it to MBU via fax: 9340 1790 or email
  • The MBU staff will notify you within 3 days of having received the fax and will provide information about the status of the referral (i.e. eligible vs. ineligible referral).
  • If eligible, your referral will be prioritised and placed on the MBU waiting list.
  • You will also need to provide regular updates regarding the status of your client, especially when there is a change in their clinical status, to ensure that they are appropriately prioritised. This can be done by filling out a Referral Update Form and attaching it to an email or fax: 9340 1790.

Please note that MBU is not responsible for the management of the patient upon receiving the referral. However MBU  will be responsible for responding appropriately to your referral by adding your patient to the waiting list or suggesting other more appropriate sources of support.

Waiting for admission

When there are no available beds MBU will prioritise referrals with medically urgent admissions taking priority. For example: Women with severe mental health problems and who are breast feeding young baby’s are a high priority for admission.

  • Referrals will be placed on a waiting list in order of their level of priority according to the MBU Admissions Policy. The waiting list and priority ranking of referrals will be reviewed on a daily basis.  
  • When a bed becomes available the highest priority referral will be contacted for admission. In this case a MBU staff member will contact the woman who has been referred and will notify the referrer via telephone or email.

Waiting time

Due to MBU’s commitment to admitting the highest priority referrals upon availability of a bed it is difficult to predict waiting times for admission and admission, therefore, cannot be guaranteed. Waiting times for admission have been anywhere between a few days to several weeks. When a bed becomes available an MBU staff member will contact you and your patient.

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The Multi-Disciplinary Team

The multi-disciplinary team (MDT) is involved in all aspects of the patient's assessment and treatment meeting daily to discuss treatment direction and progress.

The MDT consists of the following members:

  • Head of Department - Consultant Psychiatrist
  • Registrar/Medical Officer
  • Clinical Nurse Manager
  • Senior Clinical Psychologist
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist – In Patient
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist - Community
  • Mental Health Nurses
  • Registered Nurses
  • Enrolled Nurses
  • Midwives
  • Social Worker
  • Mothercraft Nurses

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Inpatient Program

Assessments are carried out at the time of admission and treatment programs are tailored according to need. Most patients will require medication or other medical treatments for their illness.

Patients are expected to take part in the recommended daytime programs whilst inpatients.

Visits and overnight stays at home or with family are scheduled as part of discharge planning to ensure a smooth transition home after discharge.

At the initial assessment, management options will be discussed. This may include:

  • Medication
  • Individual therapy
  • Partners group
  • Psychoeducation

All patients are expected to take part in the day program which includes:

  • Group therapy covering issues such as anxiety and depression management
  • CBT techniques
  • Discharge Planning
  • Meditation and mindfulness
  • Exercise such as walking and yoga
  • Parenting skills
  • Mother and baby music
  • Art and crafts.

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Further Information

If you wish to ask for more information about the unit please call (08) 9340 1799.

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MBU is not a crisis care service therefore MBU cannot be responsible for responding to acute or crisis situations. If you require urgent acute or crisis intervention please contact MHERL 1300 555 788 or your nearest hospital emergency department.

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