One of the most intriguing questions that we received during the last conference we were invited to was from a gentleman who asked us (paraphrased):
“If postpartum depression affects 1 in 7 new moms after child birth, and has been related to the sudden drop of hormones, why do dads get Postpartum Depression seeing as they do not give birth?”
Our team was elated to get this question for one reason: more men (dads, partners, lovers) asking questions about maternal mental health means more awareness and less stigma, and ultimately goes a long way in creating support for them and the women in their lives who need it. This is why, when Harriet from People Daily reached out for some insight into Postpartum Depression in men, we were more than happy to be able to contribute.
Postpartum Depression in dads affects 1 in 10 new dads, and is also referred to as Paternal Postpartum Depression (PPPD). The precise cause of PPPD is still under research, but it is believed that it is connected to the sleep deprivation and social upheavals that the birth of a new baby brings. Additional factors that may predispose men to PPPD include previous mental illness, loss of a child/ partner during the birth process, a strenous relationship with one’s partner as well as a sick/colicky/preterm baby.
One of the challenges we have had as far as helping men is concerned has been the willingness to share that they are going through. This has often been attributed to the notion that men ought to be ‘strong’, or that showing emotion and asking for help is a sign of ‘weakness’. The truth, however, is that men can, and do get mental illnesses.
Treatment is available for dads with PPPD. Talk therapy, alongside medication has been shown to be quite effective. New dads are advised to get help from a qualified mental health professional, preferably one who has dealt with men/ new dads.
Thank you for the feature, People Daily. Click here to read the full post, and personal accounts of Kenyan dads who have had PPPD.
World Mental Health Day was observed on the 10th of October this year under the theme, ‘Youth and Mental Health in a changing world’.
“Adolescence and the early years of adulthood are a time of life when many changes occur, for example changing schools, leaving home, and starting university or a new job. For many, these are exciting times. They can also be times of stress and apprehension however. In some cases, if not recognized and managed, these feelings can lead to mental illness. The expanding use of online technologies, while undoubtedly bringing many benefits, can also bring additional pressures, as connectivity to virtual networks at any time of the day and night grows. Many adolescents are also living in areas affected by humanitarian emergencies such as conflicts, natural disasters and epidemics. Young people living in situations such as these are particularly vulnerable to mental distress and illness.” (source)
This snippet from the WHO organization shares on why mental health awareness is important, particularly in the youth. Statistics show that 50% of all mental illnesses typically start at the age of 14. The fact that many of these illnesses go undiagnosed and untreated among the youth means it is a major issue in many countries across the world.
In Kenya, research shows that depression and anxiety are the leading mental illnesses, especially in the youth. It is against this background that different stakeholders sought to host a discussion forum on mental health and the youth. This is important because it not only allows the youth to build mental fortitude, it also creates awareness and allows them to seek for help.
In Kenya, Mental 360 exists to promote mental health by raising awareness, creating support systems for the youth and advocating for the rights of persons experiencing mental health challenges. On 11th October 2018, the team held a forum with the aim of engaging stakeholders to find out how to improve the mental health of the youth in Kenya.
PPDKenya was invited to talk about teen pregnancies and how this predisposes teen and young moms to Postpartum Depression. One of our team members, Lindsey, also share a moving account of her PPD story and what we can do to help moms living with PPD. Here are snippets from that conversation:
Teen pregnancy, also known as adolescence pregnancy, is pregnancy that occurs in females below 20 years. Some of the risk factors associated with teen pregnancies include:
Lack of sex education
Broken families and especially where kids are exposed to violence
Harmful cultural practices that include early marriages and FGM
Peer pressure to fit in
The glamorization of teen pregnancy and the influence of the media
Owing to the challenges of teen pregnancy, teen and young moms are predisposed to PPD. PPD typically affects at least 20% of new moms, but the rates are higher in teens at approximately 36%. This risk increases significantly in teens who have lived with mental illnesses. What’s more, for teens with mental illnesses, pregnancy and parenting only aggravates the condition.
How can we help teen moms?
By recognizing that teen pregnancy does not mean that one cannot be successful in life.
By reducing the stigma against teen moms.
By helping them get the medical help they need.
By supporting them to go back to school through the ‘return-to-school’ policy
By listening and empathising with them, and providing a safe space for them to share.
By addressing the socioeconomic risk factors at the heart of teen pregnancies – poverty, harmful cultural practices, access to sex education and sexual violence. A holistic approach is required by different stakeholders – the Ministry of Health, leaders of religious institutions, schools, Youth-led organizations such as Mental 360 and the civil society among others.
Below are some of the images from the event.
UPDATE: We recently had this conversation on our bimonthly tweetchats. Catch up with that thread here
Postpartum Depression (PPD) is one of the most common maternal mental illnesses; with statistics showing that 1 in every 9 moms will get PPD. Yet, as common as it is, many affected moms typically admit that they wish they knew more about PPD before they had it. They admit it would help them accept the condition and seek help faster. We asked some of the moms who have reached out to PPDKenya (and gotten help) what they wish they knew about PPD before child birth. Here are the responses:
I wish I knew PPD steals even little joys
Lyn, a mom of two girls, shared how her PPD stole even the smallest of triumphs. She could not find joy in her motherhood experience, and this impacted her ability to bond with her second daughter. One of the ways in which Postpartum Depression manifests is through a mom’s inability to bond with her child. This does not mean that a mom hates her child; on the contrary, she may be overprotective of her bundle of joy, but just can’t find it within herself to bond and play with her baby.
I wish I knew PPD is a treatable mental illness
Lucy, a mom to one said, “I wish I knew Postpartum Depression is a mental health condition that can be treated through therapy. “ One of the myths about PPD is that it is a permanent condition for which there is no help. PPD is a temporary condition for which treatment is available. Moms do get help, and go on to make a recovery. Part of the reason we continue to do awareness campaigns on Twitter (check out our previous #PPDKenya tweetchats here) is because when moms are aware, then they can know what the symptoms of PPD are and where to get help.
I wish I knew Depression after birth is NOT normal.
“Depression after birth is NOT normal, and I wish I knew this. Additionally, PPD affects both moms and dads,” Kristy shared with us. Many moms who reach out for help with PPD will often admit that a well-meaning person told them what they felt was ‘normal’ and it would pass. The truth of the matter is that PPD is anything but normal. When a mom starts to exhibit symptoms of PPD, and they go on for more than two weeks, then there is cause for concern. More importantly, moms are reminded that, just because you exhibit just a couple of symtoms of PPD, it does not invalidate your concerns.
I wish I knew that it was possible to get Pregnancy depression and PPD thereafter
Jacinta* shared how, struggling with depression during pregnancy and not knowing what it was only compounded her symptoms after childbirth. Her pregnancy depression symptoms included weepiness (over just about everything), inability to comprehend a future with baby, so much so that she had intrusive thought even before baby was born. Left unchecked, Jacinta’s Pregnancy Depression morphed to PPD, and she shared how, knowing what she does now after support group sessions, she wishes she had gotten help earlier.
Victoria* shared and said, “I am afraid of telling anyone close what’s happening anymore, because the last time I tried I was told that I have become ungrateful, so I continue to struggle with my PPD in silence. I feel so alone.”
The stigma associated with maternal mental illness means that moms feel ashamed for seeking help, and end up keeping it to themselves. The truth is that there is no shame in reaching out for help, and if you have PPD, please know you are not alone!
At PPDKenya, we understand what you are going through. We are here to walk the journey with you. We will help you get the help you need. Get in touch using our Contact Page.
Every year, October 15th marks the World Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) day. The goal of this day is to, first and foremost, recognize the loss that so many parents have experienced, as well as to create awareness on pregnancy and infant loss.
In Kenya, Still A Mum, a charity organization that is actively working to reduce maternal and newborn mortality, will be marking this day with a two-day conference. In the last three years, Still A Mum has been marking this event through awareness campaigns, both on print and visual media as well as through different activities including tree planting.
This year however, Still A Mum is taking a different approach. The two-day conference includes two events and the awards gala. The two events will focus on training medical professions who work in the maternal and pediatric field as well as the second that targets expectant women & their partners as well as new parents.
The awards gala will be held to appreciate individuals, professionals and organizations that are making a difference in maternal care across the world. The gala will also be held to mark Still A Mum’s third year and map the way forward.
Here’s the program for the 2018 Still A Mum Conference:
1. Client Centered Health Care –this will be a training for medical staff that work in maternity and pediatric departments. Friday 12th Oct 2018 8am -4pm.
2. Healthy Mom Healthy Baby –this event targets pregnant women and their partners as well as new moms and dads. Saturday 13th Oct 2018 8am -4pm. Some of the topics to be covered are:
– Safe pregnancy habits, danger signs to watch out for, nutrition etc
– Labor & Delivery – preparing for delivery, when a CS is needed, picking a health facility etc
– Newborn and infant care – breastfeeding, weaning, SIDS
– Postpartum care for mom – healing after a CS or episiotomy, postpartum depression etc
The event will be at Nairobi Hospital Auditorium. The cost is per person and food will be provided. Buy your ticket TODAY. Tickets can be collected after payment from the Still A Mum offices.
3. Still A Mum Awards Gala – This will be a dinner gala to award exceptional individuals, brands and companies in maternal and newborn care. The gala will also be a celebration as Still A Mum turns 3 and a fundraising dinner to raise money for our 2019 operations. It will take place on the evening of Saturday 13th Oct 2018 at the 12th Floor of the Nairobi Convection Center.
PS: Tickets are going for KShs 500 EACH for the Client Centred Health Care and the Healthy Mom Healthy Baby events , and 2000 for the awards gala. Did we mention the ticket price is inclusive of food? Yes! Do get your ticket! You can sponsor a mom too! Here’s how to make payments.
Account Number – 1210 – PPDKenya
Amount – 500
PS: You can also vote for your preferred organization, one that you feel has made a great contribution to Kenya’s maternal health sector, Vote here.
UPDATE: Read More about how the event went down here.
Postpartum Depression (PPD) is one of the most common maternal mental illness, as it affects 1 in every 5 moms. Yet, it is also often misunderstood, and this only adds to the stigma that makes it harder for moms to reach out for help. Affected moms will typically hear nasty things said to them about having a mental illness – from family, friends, co-workers and even ignorant healthcare providers. This creates myths which portray affected moms in bad light and leads to shame that prevents moms from speaking out.
The truth is that there is no shame in having a mental illness. Postpartum Depression is a treatable condition; it is temporary provided a mom gets professional help. This is what makes it important to sift through the myths and understand facts about PPD while encouraging moms to get professional help. Advocating for maternal mental health goes a long way in sensitizing the community and reminding moms that they are not alone.
Below are some myths that moms need not here anymore, alongside facts that every one needs to know about.
Myth: PPD is a visible illness
Fact: PPD is NOT a visible illness & while some moms may not be able to get out of bed, bond with baby or even clean the house, not all moms present this way. Some moms appear well put together on the surface, but may be struggling on the inside.
Fact: Upto 80% of new moms experience baby blues, a mild condition characterized by moodiness, crying episodes, difficulty sleeping and worries. This typically lasts up to 2 weeks; since the condition is mild, it tends to resolve on its own without requiring treatment. PPD however, is more severe, lasts longer and requires treatment. The most important thing to note is that PPD symptoms can appear at anytime during the first yr after birth. Many moms are confused when they start to notice symptoms of PPD months later, yet PPD may occur at anytime in the first 12 months.
Myth: PPD is a mom’s fault/ happens because of something a mom did
Fact: PPD is a real mental illness and NOT something a mom chooses to have. Affected moms often blame themselves foe having PPD when they cannot experience the mythical magic of motherhood. The truth is that PPD is caused by a number of factors (hormonal, psychological and social), all of which a new mom has no control over. To say PPD is a mom’s fault is grossly inaccurate and unfounded. PPD is not a mom’s fault.
Myth: PPD is a sign of weakness/laziness/bad motherhood
Fact: There is no truth in this. PPD is NOT a measure of strengthor how hard working a new mom is neither is it a reflection of her mothering skills. PPD is a mental illness for which professional help is available
Myth: Pregnant women cannot get depressed
Fact: 1 in 10 expectant women will get pregnancy depression. Pregnancy in itself, does not mean that a mom-to-be cannot get depression. Just like PPD, there are many risk factors associated with this form of depression (also known as pregnancy depression).Left unchecked, pregnancy depression almost always leads to PPD
Myth: PPD will go away on its own/ is something you can snap out of
Contrary to popular belief, PPD (and other maternal mental illnesses) is not something a mom can ‘just get over’. If it were that simple and straightforward, so many moms wouldn’t be suffering in the first place. This is a common, yet inaccurate statement affected moms hear. The truth is that telling someone to snap out of PPD implies weakness and only silences moms who would otherwise need help. Silence makes it harder for moms to get help & adds to the stigma thereof
Myth: You can recover from PPD if only you got more sleep
Fact: Granted, new moms will experience sleep deprivation and fatigue in the first few months after childbirth. This exhaustion does contribute to PPD, but getting adequate rest ALONE will not treat PPD.
Myth: PPD means a mom does not love her baby
Fact: A common myth that couldn’t be further from the truth. PPD is not a measure of how much/how little a mom loves her child. Depression affects a mom’s ability to bond with her baby, but this is not because she does not love her baby
Fact: There are treatment options available for PPD, and that makes recovery possible. The earlier a mom gets help the PPD, the faster she is able to recover. We have had moms in our support groups make a full recovery, and continue to provide psychosocial support both online and offline for affected moms.
Disregarding these myths and providing factual information about maternal mental health is part of our advocacy work. If you suspect you may be suffering from Postpartum Depression, please get in touch with us using this Contact Form and we will link you with professional help. And for the mom with please know:
– You are not alone
– You matter
– You can get help
We understand and we would love to help you.
This topic was the sixth in our series of bi-monthly tweetchats. If you missed it, or would like to see other topics we have covered, click this link.