Many women around the globe have had to deal with this menace called Post Partum Depression (PPD) a type of mood disorder that affects some mothers upon the delivery of their children. This illness has somehow become a cankerous worm many, especially in this part of the world have no idea, what is in fact about. From feelings of sadness to hopelessness down to actual psychotic breakdown, PPD, as it is sometimes called, is an illness that should never be taken mildly. We sat down for an interview with Emeh Achanga of Misspetitenaijablog, who took us on her childbirth and PPD journey. From what triggered the PPD down to how she dealt with it. The mom of one also revealed she never got help from family or friends, whom one would think will readily come to her aid, but again can we blame these people, what if they have no idea what PPD does look like. Emeh opened up on how she was perceived as a crazy person, to her having to force the bonding moments with her daughter, another issue many medical practitioners in the country are guilty of. For some of us who gave birth in this country, we can attest to the fact that our babies were taken from us the very minute we gave birth to them, under the guise of needing to clean them up and all, all very wrong. This interview is indeed an eye opener and a must read for every human in the world, most especially Nigeria and the African continent.
KOKO: How was your first birth experience?
Emeh: It was scary. I had prepared myself for vaginal childbirth and when I was rushed to the hospital, a scan revealed my baby was not properly positioned as she was leg down. So was quickly rushed to the theatre for a cesarean operation. It was probably the scariest moment of my life due to my phobia of operations and surgical procedures. I didn’t even have time to consider or weigh my options as I was told any minute wasted, puts my baby at risk since my water broke hence the protective sac which protects a baby from infections was no more.
Seeing the surgical instruments, the slab where I was supposed to lay down naked, made me feel like a lamb being led to slaughter.
I was injected with and though I was supposed to sleep off, I actually felt aware of what was going on. I felt my self-spinning and felt my baby pulled from me.
When it was all over and I was wheeled back to my room, I was so hungry and thirsty but was told I was not going to eat or drink water until my internal organs were settled. In my case, it took three days and I was still breastfeeding my baby. It was a very painful experience KOKO: When did you discover it was Postpartum depression?
Emeh: I discovered quite early when I realised I could not stop crying. While I was aware most new mums suffer baby blues which is normal, I had deeper and intense feelings of rejection, anger, sadness and felt my life was over. I was so scared of hating my baby that I practically forced myself to bond with her. I was aware of worse case scenarios, PPD mums could harm their babies, so I made a conscious effort to keep reminding myself that I put myself in that situation, not my baby. KOKO: What were the worst signs you experienced?
Emeh: The worst sign was me hating other people carrying my baby. It literally drove me mad even though they knew I was in pain and needed rest. The worst moment was when 5 days after my CS, I ran to the hospital corridor screaming and crying uncontrollably, telling them I wasn’t bonding with my baby. I remember yelling, ‘Please help me..They keep taking my baby away from me. They only give her to me when she is hungry and needs to be breastfed. I don’t want to hate my baby. I’m scared I’m not bonding with her.’ The doctor had to follow me immediately to talk to my people to ensure my baby was left to bond with me. The funny part is, they looked at me like I was crazy.
KOKO: Is there anything that you feel may have contributed to your experiencing PPD?
Emeh: Yes, from what I understand, what triggers PPD varies. In my case, going through CS triggered it. I was scared for my life and wasn’t prepared for the aftermath and painful healing process.
KOKO: Were you worried or scared when you discovered you had PPD?
Emeh: I was very worried and scared. My biggest fear was harming my child.
KOKO: How did you feel about the condition?
Emeh: I felt helpless and consumed by it…I was conscious of every move I made to be sure I had it under control. Let’s just say it was like walking on eggshells.KOKO: Did you get any support
Emeh: Sadly, I didn’t. Not from doctors, family or friends. All the support I got was from personal research online and reading about other women who had experienced it.
KOKO: How are things going now with your child?
Emeh: Right now, it’s safe to say I’m out of the danger zone. Occasionally, depression sets in but I’m much more in control now.
KOKO: Why do you think it is difficult to recognize or admit to PPD?
Emeh: Fear of being tagged crazy. In Nigeria and Africa as a whole, most people are not even aware of PPD. Pregnant women are not educated on PPD, so they do not even know about it. Also, because many new mums experience baby blues, those around PPD sufferers believe their symptoms would be gone after a while. Lastly, admitting to PPD here is likened to being a tagged a bad mum. So, many would rather suffer in silence until they snap.
KOKO: What advice would you give to someone presently experiencing PPD?
Emeh: Keep speaking about it …Enlighten your family members, spouse and friends. Also, try to talk to your doctor if you have one. Let them know how you feel. Most importantly, read about PPD, carry out your research and read about other women’s experiences. e.g American model, Chrissy Teigen. Chrissy has been very vocal about it. Knowing you are not crazy and that there are other mums who go through what you are experiencing would lift the weight off your shoulder. Join support groups online too. Photo Credit: Emeh Achanga/KOKO TV