With the many ‘killings’ of babies by their mothers that have been happening lately, I feel I ought to write something that I believe might be the reason. I will, however, acknowledge here that, I might be wrong, so I am merely just shedding light on something that I feel is what is happening.
Postpartum depression. We all can understand that, unless a psychopath, no mother would willingly hurt her newborn baby. So, what then happens to those who kill their babies right after giving birth and show no remorse or explanation as to why?
Postpartum means the time after childbirth. Postpartum depression is a serious mental illness that involves the brain and affects your behaviour and physical health. If you feel empty, emotionless, or sad all or most of the time for longer than two weeks during or after pregnancy, or if you feel like you don’t love or care for your baby, you might have postpartum depression. This usually happens when one is feeling sad, hopeless, and overwhelmed, crying a lot, having thoughts about hurting the baby or yourself, not having any interest in the baby, not feeling connected to the baby, or feeling like your baby is someone else’s baby.
Hormonal changes may trigger symptoms of postpartum depression. When a woman is pregnant, levels of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone are the highest they’ll ever be. In the first 24 hours after childbirth, hormone levels quickly drop back to normal, to pre-pregnancy levels. Researchers think this sudden change in hormone levels may lead to depression. Levels of thyroid hormones may also drop after giving birth. Low levels of thyroid hormones can cause symptoms of depression. Other feelings may contribute to postpartum depression, including feeling tired, overwhelmed, and stressed. These feelings are common among new mothers.
As a result, if not attended to, a mother may then be triggered to hurt her baby. This would then mean that, as much as the research has been done, awareness about it has not been spread enough, especially in the community of colour. However, with as little awareness, all these mothers need to at least see a psychologist, and not a social worker, to get them back on their feet. A psychologist will help them have these difficult conversations about how they feel and they will get the help they need. This conversation should not be a taboo nor should mental health within the black community be regarded as such either. It happens and people should be given the right help.
Here are some other ways to begin feeling better or getting more rest, in addition to talking to a healthcare professional.
1. Rest as much as you can and sleep when the baby is sleeping.
2. As a new mother, don’t try to do too much or to do everything by yourself, ask your partner, family, and friends for help.
3. Talk about your feelings with your partner, supportive family members, and friends.
• Frieda Mukufa’s lifestyle section concentrates on women-related issues and parenting every Friday in the New Era newspaper.