Africa is a multi ethnicity continent with diverse beliefs, cultures and traditions. We often pride ourselves with the fact that out of the seven continents in the world, Africa is the most celebrated in the aspect of our heritage. However, inspite of the high respect we have for our heritage, there are some misconceptions about some certain issues which are always attributed to the supernatural. There are some many life threatening conditions that could have been salvaged in time, but instead they have been treated with that superstitious belief some Africans hold firmly on no matter how educated and exposed they are.
I heard a story sometime ago about a boy of about twelve years old who lost his life to the cold hands of death. The little boy was sick, and instead of his parents taking him to the hospital for effective treatment,they cooked all sort of herbs and gave the poor boy the mixture to drink. But instead of him getting better, his situation worsen. At this point, his parents had no other choice than to rush him to the hospital, where he finally gave up the ghost because it was too late.
His parents were treating him of malaria, not knowing that their only child was suffering from a much more severe sickness. Do not get me wrong, I am not in anyway underestimating the effectiveness of African herbs, but it is always advisable to go to the hospital first and get diagnosed properly before using the wrong herbs to treat a non existent disease.
As usual, when the news of the boy’s death broke out, the terrestrial forces were blamed. The parents could not readily hold up to the fact that it was their negligence and ignorance that made them lose their only child. We need to start educating people about certain medical conditions which are always waved aside in this continent; because it is the belief of some Africans that any sickness more serious than Thyroid, Malaria etc and has big names like Autism Spectrum Disorder, Postnatal disorder, Sclerosis, Bipolar disorder etc Are only sicknesses that can affect the causacians and any pale or yellow skinned individual. But this mentality is wrong, God created us equally with the same immune system. So what exactly automatically qualify us from being exempted? and when this sickness eventually manifest, it definitely will have a spiritual undertone.
The purpose of this article is to actually create an awareness about postnatal disorder some new mothers experience after the delivery of their babies. A lady gave birth to her first child few years ago.
After the usual merriment and happiness which always accompany the birth of a new born baby, the new mother started showing signs of insanity few weeks later. It started with the mother avoiding to touch the baby and one afternoon decided to suffocate the baby to death if not for the timely intervention of her Mother-in-law. Few days later, she finally went berserk. News got around that the woman had experienced Abisinwi( a Yoruba word for a new mother going insane after the birth of her child). It was said that she probably offended someone who decided to teach her a lesson.
An absurd mentality right? But these set of people most probably have not heard of postnatal disorder some women experience, hence their conclusion that the woman’s case had a spiritual undertone.
What exactly is postpartum disorder?
Postpartum disorder could be otherwise known as postnatal depression. It is simply the physical, psychological and emotional imbalances new mothers usually experience. It ranges from mild to severe degree of outburst, depending on the type.
It could either be “baby blues” which is usually experienced by most new mothers and occurs in 40 to 85 percent of deliveries which is always mild. Or post natal depression which is usually very severe.
The symptoms for “baby blues”usually include crying, anxiety, loss of appetite, lack of sleep and not having enough bond with the baby. This phase can be easily managed, because after few days, it usually diminishes. But for postnatal depression, that is like a clinical depression which if not well taken care of can lead to the end of the mother and child’s life respectively.
Symptoms reported for postnatal depression according to psychology today includes:
1.Depressed mood for most of the day and nearly every day.
- Hopelessness and despair.
Thoughts of suicide and/or infanticide.
Fear of harming the baby.
Feelings of guilt, inadequacy, and worthlessness.
Poor focus and impaired memory.
Agitation or lethargy.
However, the most severe one is called postnatal psychosis. Women who suffer from this condition usually experience intense hallucinations and delusions. This may result in the death of the the child or even the mother herself. If the symptoms are detected early, it can be treated with antidepressant medication and psycho therapy.
Perhaps, if the family of the lady whom I narrated her experience above knew about this disorder, they would have taken her to the hospital to get a qualified therapist who would work on her. Most women here in Africa are usually supported by their friends and family after delivery, but that is not automatically ruling out the fact that a new mother still can’t experience this inspite of the support system. Motherhood is the beginning of a different life for most women, some have it tough, while some have it easy. It is always advisable to seek the help of a qualified psychotherapist immediately a woman starts exhibiting these severe traits. The woman during this period needs all the love and care she can get because if not managed properly,could lead to something more disastrous.
It’s okay for the new mother to take a break, as a partner or family member; don’t just assume that she’s a super woman who is supposed to snap back to her real self immediately after delivery without help.
Reach out to her when the feeling of hopelessness sets in, and together find a cure for her condition.
African women are not exempted from experiencing this disorder. So, we have to keep creating awareness and educating people about it.
Have you found this post helpful? Have you or any woman around you experienced this disorder? Are you just hearing about it for the first time? Please, do share your thoughts with me.