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Truth about pre-natal depression

By Jasmine Atieno
Wednesday, February 10th, 2021
Truth about pre-natal depression.
In summary

Prenatal depression almost pushed Natalia Kache 29, to the brink of breaking the law and brewed deep hatred for her child. 

She developed resentment towards her child from the onset of her pregnancy.

Before realising she was pregnant in 2017, she had endured months of verbal and physical abuse from the man she was dating.

“We had been living together since 2016 and in 2017, he became abusive. He would embarrass me in front of his friends; so I moved out not knowing I was pregnant,” she says. 

When she found she was pregnant, it really took toll on her. 

“I hated that I was carrying a child for him. I hated the thought of being the mother of his child and dreaded they would look anything like him,” she adds.

From using strong tea to swallowing pills, Natalia tried to abort the pregnancy several times, but it backfired.

She delivered her baby on May 9, 2018. One of her closest friends had advised her to give up the baby for adoption after noticing how resentful she was. 

Indifference

“When he was born, I felt nothing for that child even as he cried. I did not want to see or even hear his voice.

I would have left him in hospital, honestly,” Natalie remembers. Fortunately, her mother offered to take the baby and care of him.

“I am doing better now, but remembering that period, I am not yet ready to live with the baby or spend much time around him. He doesn’t even know I am his mother yet,” she says.

Natalia is one among many women that go through prenatal depression. Medical experts say the condition is mainly due to hormonal imbalance.

The hormones that help maintain pregnancy may go out of control. According to Lucy Ann Wahome, a doctor, there are many symptoms that show a woman is dealing with the illness.

“It can manifest through extreme mood swings. A woman is happy one minute and extremely sad the next.

This is not anything to worry about, but when the sadness persists for long periods and is severe, then it could be depression,” she says.

Women undergoing prenatal depression may try to look for ‘easy solutions’ to terminate the pregnancy thus may consider abortion.

Those who carry the pregnancy to term may reject the child and either give up them up for adoption or abandon them.

Lucy says there are women who are genetically predisposed to prenatal depression. Rejection by either a lover or parents can also trigger it.

Beyond sadness

 “Most women are genetically pre-disposed to depression. This means they inherited from their parents.

Their mothers may not have gotten depressed, but then again they probably didn’t have any triggering factors of depression,” she explains.

Prenatal depression is treatable through psychotherapy, which helps patients cope with circumstances triggering the illness.

Psychologist Faith Mutegi, says certain experiences may trigger the onset of prenatal depression.

“It may be triggered by high levels of anxiety from experiences such as getting pregnant after an incident of rape or incest, miscarriage or death of an infant.

The pregnant woman may also be stressed due to the harsh economic or dysfunctional environment she will be bringing the child into, whether it is her first or subsequent children,” says Faith.

Hormonal and other physiological changes in the woman’s body, can create turmoil before the baby is born. 

“Expectant women experiencing prenatal depression must be experiencing five or more symptoms within a two week period and at least one of the symptoms should be either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure,” says Faith. 

She adds that other signs of prenatal depression include, suicidal thoughts, fatigue, restlessness , weight loss, low self esteem and intense feelings of inadequacy about parenthood.