Postpartum depression (PPD) is a type of mood disorder that is associated with childbirth. Its symptoms include extreme sadness, low energy, anxiety, crying episodes, irritability, and changes in sleeping or eating patterns. Although the exact cause of PPD is unclear, it is believed to be a combination of physical, emotional, genetic, and social factors, which may include hormonal changes and sleep deprivation. Most women who experience PPD have a brief period of worry or unhappiness after delivery.
However, there have been extreme cases where a PPD-affected mother harmed her child(ren) and/or committed suicide. This is why efforts by different organizations have been intensified in the last couple of years to create awareness for the condition. As part of these efforts to create awareness and build support for the prevention and management of postpartum depression in women, the Initiative for Women and Girls Right Advancement (IWOGRA) has presented a training manual to address the concern.
PPD contributes to the high rate of maternal mortality in Nigeria.
The Executive Director of IWOGRA, Nkechi Obiagbaoso-Udegbunam, stated at a public presentation of the manual, which was titled “Prevention and Management of Postpartum Depression in Women and was held at its office in Abuja, that the project focuses on creating awareness and building support for the prevention and management of postpartum depression in women. This will generate evidence for the strengthening of systems and structures for addressing PPD and build the resilience of women of reproductive age to manage PPD experiences.
She noted that PPD negatively affects a woman’s mental and physical health/well-being after childbirth. It also contributes to the high rate of maternal mortality in the country. A few months ago, in November 2022, the Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria (SOGON) lamented the high rater of maternal death in the country, stating that Nigeria is nowhere near achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target of reducing the global mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births. However, the SOGON President, Dr. Habi Sadauki, said that Nigeria’s maternal mortality rate is still among the highest in the world. It is an estimated 512 deaths per 100,000 live births.
IWOGRA director said PPD needs immediate redress.
Obiagbaoso-Udegbunam, said that postpartum depression has not received adequate attention and efforts from a wide range of actors and stakeholders, thereby giving rise to the need for immediate redress. According to her, the training manual would meet the unmet needs of women with postpartum depression, build the capacity of women, their partners, healthcare providers and their communities to prevent and respond to cases of postpartum depression. She said that it will also build individual knowledge, understanding and skills to address PPD. The presentation event was supported by Action Aid Nigeria and received funding from Global Affairs Canada through the Women’s Voice and Leadership (WVL Nigeria) Project, Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF).
Representatives of the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NWCN), National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), and Primary Healthcare Centres in Jikwoyi and Dutse-Alhaji areas of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) attended the event. The Chief Nursing Officer of NWCN, Timbuak Yamai, said that the council was delighted to be collaborating to incorporate postpartum depression into the Nursing and Midwifery Curriculum when it is due for a review. The training manual addresses the types, signs and symptoms, causes, risk factors and myths around postpartum depression. It also harps on the different treatment methods and the importance of women caring for themselves after childbirth as well what actions to take to aid recovery and the different roles of partners, healthcare providers and community members in supporting the recovery of women experiencing postpartum depression.
Several attendees commend the public presentation.
The Assistant General Secretary, National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Nanman Philemon Kash, said that the presentation of the training manual was timely and very important for nurses and midwives. She added that the content is easy to understand and easier for nurses and midwives to work with women in their childbirth age from ante-natal to postnatal. A psychologist with Christian Women for Excellence and Empowerment in Nigeria Society (CWEENS), Grace Larai Iyamu, also noted that a lot of women experience postpartum depression but do not know that it is a mental health condition, which if not tackled in time, could lead to mental health damages. She urged the Federal Ministry of Health to adopt the training manual for national usage.