It was reported in the news some days back on how a Nigerian mother killed her 1-year-old daughter for depriving her of the chance to attend University.
Dr Sekela Gad-Briggs however has thrown more light on why some mothers kill their babies.
In a recent interview with the Punch , the general practitioner at the National Health Service, England, with interest in women’s health and mental well-being, attributed the act to postpartum disorders in women.
What is postpartum?
Postpartum refers to a period of time following childbirth. It is commonly defined as six weeks after birth. However, in the case of postpartum depression, this can be diagnosed up to 12 months following childbirth.
What are postpartum disorders?
Postpartum disorders are mental health disorders which can affect women following childbirth.
What are the different types of the postpartum disorder?
There are postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis (puerperal psychosis) and postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder.
Are there major causes?
There is no single cause, but certain women may be at an increased risk of developing a postpartum disorder. Possible causal factors include previous psychiatric history such as depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia; previous postnatal depression, family history of psychiatric problems, and unwanted or unplanned pregnancy.
Others are complications in pregnancy or childbirth, having a baby with health problems or special needs, multiple birth (twins or triplets), difficulty breastfeeding, relationship problems with spouse or partner, stressful events in the preceding 12 months, e.g. pregnancy complications, job loss, illness, financial problems, and weak support system, e.g. lack of good friends or family support.
Recently, a young Nigerian woman was reported to have killed her baby by drowning her in a bucket before reporting herself to the police. She claimed the baby cost her the chance to go to university and that she felt no remorse after murdering her baby. Can this be linked to postpartum disorder?
This is a very extreme and sad case. The medical details are not known and therefore I can only speculate. It is very likely that this young mother was suffering with postpartum psychosis causing depression, despair, abnormal thoughts and possibly hallucinations and hearing voices telling her to cause harm to her child.
Severe psychosis can cause lack of insight, where the person does not even recognise that they are unwell, and they have no control over their actions. Those around them may not recognise that they are in a dangerous situation. It appears she may have had a lack of social and financial support which may have further worsened the situation.
The father of the child did not want to be involved and the young woman stated that she had wished to abort the pregnancy but her father refused. Both she and her sister, whom she lived with, had no financial income. It was reported by the sister that their late mother had a history of mental health problems.