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Nyokabi Advocates For Post-Natal Depression Management Amongst Young Mothers.

Kiambu Women Rep Ann Nyokabi Gathecha has called on the relevant health officers to consider counselling young mothers to guard them against possible postpartum depression (PPD) or postnatal depression which is a type of clinical depression affecting majority of them after childbirth.

Speaking to young mothers after the completion of the ‘Malezi Bora’ week at Makongeni Health Centre yesterday, Nyokabi cited the example of Thursday’s bizarre incident where a 26-year old woman in Uhuru Estate Nairobi slit the throats of her one-month old twins with a kitchen knife .

According to her neighbours, the woman portrayed signs of depression after giving birth. Police believe that she was suffering from a postnatal depression that occurs among mothers who have just given birth.

“I know at times you hate yourselves as young mothers because you believe that you have erred by conceiving at a very tender age. Giving birth is not an easy task. It is quite stressing. The young mother we saw on TV yesterday wasn’t mad but she had a mental problem that she knew nothing about or how to get out of it,” said Nyokabi.

She said that these young ladies needed some mental preparation on what awaited them after giving birth. She said that it was a stage in life that one found themselves in, without any prior formal education.  

After childbirth, young mothers suffered mood swings or mild feelings of sadness, sleep disturbance that is characterised by hallucinations, delusions, agitation, and other psychotic symptoms.

“Currently, there is no support system to guide these mothers. When they encounter challenging times, they basically have no one to advise them and the outcome can be catastrophic as we witnessed in the Nairobi case,” she noted.  

“Postpartum mood changes are not the fault of the mother. Screening and counseling for disorders such as PPD, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can prevent potentially serious consequences. Delay in receiving adequate treatment is associated with an increased duration (and perhaps severity) of PPD. Clinicians must be proactive in identifying women at risk and providing appropriate counseling, referral, or both,” she added.

She advised the women to form social support groups that they would use to share personal experiences and come out with solutions to their challenges.

She also cautioned young girls against this idea of acquiring their first ID Cards using the surname of their lovers or young husbands saying that they risked having a very big challenge in case their ‘marriage’ failed to work out.

“When girls are through with school, they rush to get IDs using the boyfriend’s name. If this marriage fails and you want to change that surname, what are you going to do, especially if he is no longer available to assist the authorities in the change of names? Please take your ID in your father’s name,” she said.

She said that she was willing to assist young mothers but this was only possible if they were in groups. She therefore advised them to form or join available self-help groups so that she may use the funds at her disposal to improve their financial abilities.

“If you do that, I will personally come and assist you in whatever ways I can. I want you, this group that I have met here at Makongeni today, to call me soon so that we can chat the way forward to your future,” she said.

About a hundred young mothers had spent a whole week learning about good parenting and proper nutrition for their kids. They were taught how to properly breastfeed their young ones and also the kinds of foods they were expected to feed their babies to maintain their good health.

It was revealed that over the last few months, out of the 600 children admitted in Thika Level 5 Hospital, 200 were reported to be suffering from malnutrition. Most of these children came from Kiandutu Slums, Witeithie and Kiganjo Estates.

It was noted that theirs was not a matter of lack of food but a case of poor feeding habits as well as very limited breastfeeding from their mothers.

Kiambu County Director of Preventive Health Beatrice Mutile Wanyee advised young mothers to always attend both pre-natal and ante-natal clinics so that any health problems for both the child and the mother could be detected early and checked in good time.

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