Many More Mothers Could Kill Their Newborn Babies


It is shocking and saddening to read about a recent incident of a young woman in Eastlands who slit the throats of her one-month old twins . A two-day old baby was found dumped in Shing’oto village in Kakamega  on a river bank, wrapped only in a ragged skirt.

Last year, a similar occurrence took place in Trans Nzoia, when a 25 year old woman killed and buried her twin babies just two days after giving birth.Another baby who was dumped was found by a dog and rescued. Similarly, a dumped baby was found in Kiritiri town.

The birth of a child creates many changes in a woman’s life. A new mother’s relationship with her partner will change from being primarily a romantic bond to a working partnership focused on housework and childcare. She may give up paid work or no longer have time for her own activities, which can make her feel uninterested, isolated or resentful.

Some women are unprepared for the inevitable changes that having a baby brings, and for the amount and type of work that is involved in caring for a baby.

stressed mum

Women may feel angry with the baby and ashamed that they are not living up to societal myths or standards about the ideal mother-intense feelings that can spiral downward into postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression describes the range of emotional, physical, and behavioral changes often experienced by new mothers whose symptoms can range from mild to severe. While some new mothers experience a mild, brief period of “baby blues“,others suffer from postpartum depression which is a much more serious condition.

sad mom

In some cases, new mothers may have postpartum psychosis; a much rarer but extremely serious condition characterized by severe depression, psychotic thoughts and hallucinations. Mothers with postpartum psychosis sometimes consider hurting their infants.

Studies estimate that 10 percent to 15 percent of women may experience a major depressive episode within three months after giving birth. If minor depressive episodes are included, as many as one in five new mothers suffer from depression.

And, the disorder isn’t limited to mothers: Up to 10 percent of new fathers may experience postpartum depression as well.

man cry

While biological, psychosocial and cultural theories have been investigated, the exact causes of postpartum depression are unknown; and there is continued research in this area. Researchers have stated that the psychosocial and emotional factors that seem to be related to this condition, act as stressors and impact a woman’s self-esteem. New mothers are concerned about levels of support and prolonged postpartum depression is linked to lack of social support.

Sleeplessness and fatigue are common complaints. Giving birth taxes a woman’s strength, and it can take several weeks to recover. A cesarean delivery is a major surgery and requires even more recovery time. Combined with the energy spent caring for a baby 24/7 as well as tending to other responsibilities, it is no surprise that new mothers suffer inadequate rest. The resulting fatigue may increase a woman’s vulnerability and be an added risk for depression.

A major factor in postpartum depression is lack of support from others.


New mothers need comfort and support during pregnancy and after delivery. She also needs help with household chores and childcare. Such support may be lacking for a single mother, for a woman with few family nearby or for a woman with an unsupportive husband.

The mother’s attitude toward her pregnancy may be important when evaluating risk of postpartum depression. It is common for a woman to feel doubt about pregnancy, particularly when unplanned. A greater incidence of depression is reported among women who were hesitant about pregnancy.

Weight gain during pregnancy can also affect self-esteem and increase a risk of depression.

Mixed feelings sometimes arise from a woman’s past. Early loss of one’s own mother or a poor mother-daughter relationship might cause her to feel unsure about her new baby. She may fear that caring for the child will lead to pain, disappointment, or loss.

Feelings of loss, such as loss of freedom and control are common and can add to depression.Breast-feeding problems can also lead to depression.

Women who have their babies by caesarean birth are likely to feel more depressed and have lower self-esteem than women who had spontaneous vaginal deliveries.

Mothers with pre-term babies often become depressed. An early birth results in unexpected changes in routines and is an added stressor. In addition, a baby with a birth defect, such as autism, makes adjustment even more difficult for parents.

The birth of a first child is a particularly stressful event for new mothers and seems to have a greater relationship to depression than do the birth of a second or third child.

So, how can you identify if you, a friend, a neighbour, a colleague or a family member is going through postpartum depression?

The mother will exhibit sadness and/or extreme irritability, depressed mood for most of the day and nearly every day ,lack of interest or pleasure in activities previously considered pleasurable, increased or decreased appetite, increased or decreased need for sleep, extreme fatigue (exhaustion), inability to think clearly or make decisions, feeling of  inadequacy; especially as a mother, hopelessness and despair, thoughts of suicide and or infanticide, fears of harming the baby, lack of concern or over-concern for the baby ,feelings of guilt, inadequacy and worthlessness, poor focus and impaired memory, bizarre thoughts, hallucinations, nightmares and panic attacks.Courtesy: Psychology Today 

If you are experiencing or know someone who is experiencing three or more of the symptoms above, I encourage you to seek the services of a counselling psychologist. Counselling can help depressed mothers gain insight into and resolve their problems through verbal exchange with the therapist as well as other psychological techniques applied during therapy.

Audrey is a counselling and wellness psychologist and training expert with a passion for helping individuals and organisations attain their highest emotional and psychological health levels.

As the lead consultant at Halisi Counseling & Wellness Services, her consultancy portfolio spans a wide spectrum of sectors and includes services such as psychospiritual counselling, adolescent psychological counseling, trauma counseling, self-awareness and development and training and facilitation sessions for groups and organisations.

Facebook Halisi Counseling and Wellness Services

Instagram Halisi Counseling Services

LinkedIn Audrey M. Hongo


Published by Audrey M. Hongo

I am a counselling and wellness psychologist and training expert with a passion for helping individuals and organisations attain their highest emotional and psychological health levels.

13 thoughts on “Many More Mothers Could Kill Their Newborn Babies

    1. Thanks Muthoni. I can only imagine what you went through, especially being that young. My aim is to inform and help as many mothers as possible, especially first time mothers.


      1. Thank you Joyce. Yes,we should share it widely. More people-both men and women need to be aware of postpartum depression and what kind of help they can receive, or which a loved one can receive.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: