Post-partum Depression- The African mum pt2

Contd… from part 1 (If you haven’t already read this, please follow link here Post-partum Depression and the African mum (pt1))

Africanfinestmums - You don't have to go through post-partum depression alone

Turning point

Of course I still battled with Post-Partum Depression (PPD) for months. It didn’t magically disappear. But then, one day when my son was 4 months old, I heard the story of a woman who had PPD here in Abuja. It had gotten so bad she barricaded herself in a room for days and when her husband tried to break in, she stabbed him in the arm with a pair of scissors. I started to read more literature on the condition. I got the number of a clinical therapist, made an appointment and chickened out.

Inbuilt cultural safeguards

But I did finally open up to my mother. After I was done telling her all I was going through, she told me 4 things.

  1. That I wasn’t evil.
  2. That I was NOT a bad mother
  3. That African women are not immune to PPD. “It is more common than you think”, she said. “Even historically and traditionally Igbo culture has always taken into account the madness that can strike some women after childbirth. Where do you think the culture of ‘Omugwo’ where a mother stays with her daughter for months after she delivers came from? Infact, in the past, when people married within the same villages, all the elderly women in your family would besiege your home after childbirth and make sure that you rested. They would take care of you and the baby; the only thing you’d have to do is feed the baby”. But, she said, times have changed and in the fast paced modern world we live in, such luxuries no longer exist. The pressures of day to day life are even worse. But make no mistake, she stressed, I was not the first nor would I be the last African woman to go through Post-Partum Depression.
  4. That one day, not too far off, I would look at my son and realise just how much I love and have always loved him.

Africanfinestmums - You can overcome post-partum depression

That was the beginning of my healing process and yes, I have found that indeed she was right on all counts. My then baby and now strapping 8 year old is the love and joy of my life. He is still beautiful (oh, so beautiful!),and I still stay up at night watching him sleep. But now, I’m not counting his breaths in fear but instead I am marvelling at this amazing individual that I am lucky to call my son, and I am so grateful.

I have three children now and mercifully with the other 2, I was spared of the nightmare of PPD.

I would never wish the horrors of those 5 months on any one. And thankfully, I know enough now to offer help to any woman who goes through this.

The treatment for PPD may vary depending on the severity.

In this part of the world (and by this I mean Nigeria) mental health counselling is not very popular. People tend to think that the words mental health are synonymous with spiritual damnation. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Talk to someone (you don’t have to be alone)

Africanfinestmums - Don't suffer in silence, talk to someone

There are trained clinical therapists available that you can talk to. I am working on getting a few contacts and will put them up in later posts. If you are outside Nigeria and have access to good health care, these resources are readily available to you. Please use them. Don’t be ashamed. You owe yourself and your baby a depression-free life.

Talk therapy, also called counselling or psychotherapy, can be one-on-one with your therapist or in a group setting with other women going through a similar experience.

If you don’t have access to these or just feel counselling is one step away from the psych ward then talk to someone. It could be your mother, your sister, aunt, cousin, friend, the friendly lady in church. Find someone who you can trust and who possesses a lot of empathy and talk to them.

Some cases can be so severe as to require antidepressants. Antidepressants balance the brain chemicals that regulate your mood. These should be prescribed by a licensed mental health practitioner if necessary.

Let’s help and support each other

Africanfinestmums - Together we are stronger

And if you don’t have or have never had to deal with PPD, please do this one thing for those of us who have; be empathic. Don’t be quick to roll your eyes and judge. Don’t make things worse by making someone going through hell feel even more worthless and alone. Listen. Console. Listen again. Reassure. Do the little things that go a long way. Like offering to take the baby for a few hours while that exhausted new mum takes a nap. Or complimenting her mummy skills. Trust me on this. You are doing much more than you realise.

And to the African Mum who has had, is having or will have PPD, I leave you with the things my mum told me and this final thing; You are a super duper African Mama. You might not be rushing back to the farm to harvest the yams just now but just give it a bit; you’ll be pounding those yams real soon. I am so proud of you!

Written by Isiugo

(If you think you are or know for sure that you’re going through PPD you can check out sites like BetterHelp for online counselling. If you don’t have anyone to talk to or just want a listening ear you can get in touch with us at

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