Postpartum: Group charges govt, stakeholders

Anthonia Duru

As part of efforts to create awareness and build support for the prevention and management of postpartum depression, a non-governmental organisation the Initiative for Women and Girls Right Advancement (IWOGRA), held a public presentation of the   ‘Prevention and Management of Postpartum Depression in Women’ Training Manual at IWOGRA’s office in Abuja.

The public presentation of the Training Manual was graced by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria, National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Primary Healthcare Centres in Jikwoyi and Dutse-Alhaji, women and girls’ rights organisations, and women and men from Chika, Jikwoyi and Dutse-Alhaji communities.

Executive Director of IWOGRA a non-profit women and girls’ right organization that works towards the promotion and protection of human rights in Nigeria,  Nkechi Obiagbaoso-Udegbunam stated that the intervention is being carried out with support from ActionAid Nigeria, and funding from Global Affairs Canada through the Women’s Voice and Leadership (WVL Nigeria) Project, Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF). Also, the project focuses on creating awareness and building support for the prevention and management of postpartum depression in women, generating evidence for the strengthening of systems and structures for addressing postpartum depression and building the resilience of women of reproductive age to manage postpartum depression experiences.


According to Obiagbaoso-Udegbunam, postpartum depression is a type of mood disorder or emotional condition that negatively affect a woman’s mental and physical health/wellbeing after childbirth and contributes to the high rate of maternal mortality in Nigeria. It can begin during pregnancy, immediately after childbirth or anytime within the first year of childbirth, miscarriage or stillbirth. Postpartum depression is one of the most common but often unrecognized complications of childbirth. It is usually caused by history of mental disorder associated with genetics, history of depression, body changes of the mother like saggy breasts and big tummy, intimate partner violence, age of the mother, sex of the new-born especially where there is male preference, lack of socio-support, lack of financial support, limited knowledge of postpartum depression as a mental health problem, lack of access to the most basic sexual and reproductive health information – even relating to the significance and management of postpartum depression and limited professionals managing postpartum depression.

This according to her on the long run gives rise to anger issues, isolation, emotional detachment from child, disinterest in sex leading to strain in partner’s relationship that sometimes lead to either separation or divorce, murder, postpartum death, health challenges, suicidal tendencies and possible suicide and many more among mothers. All these interferes with the enjoyment of the exercise of women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights and makes motherhood a bitter-sweet experience.

“More so, 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. The Training Manual will meet the unmet needs of women with postpartum depression, build the capacity of women, their partners, healthcare providers and their communities to be able to prevent and respond to cases of postpartum depression. The Training Manual will build individual knowledge, understanding, and skills while building a sense of teamwork and collaboration in addressing postpartum depression,” she states at the presentation.


While delivering his goodwill message, the Chief Nursing Officer, Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NWCN), Timbuak Yamai, appreciated the efforts and contributions of IWOGRA towards achieving universal health coverage. He stated that the Council is delighted to be collaborating with IWOGRA and the Council will be incorporating Postpartum Depression into the Nursing and Midwifery Curriculum when it is due for a review. The Curriculum is the instrument used to train nurses and midwives and the Council is the only regulatory body that has been given the mandate and assigned with the task of regulating the education and practice of nursing and midwifery in Nigeria.

Also, the Assistant General Secretary, National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Nanman Philemon Kash stated that the Training Manual is timely and very important for nurses and midwives. The content of the Training Manual is easy to understand and makes it easier for nurses and midwives to work with women in their childbirth age, that is from antenatal to postnatal. She commended IWOGRA for making the Training Manual available to all health workers and stakeholders involved in the fight against postpartum depression. She also appreciated and congratulated IWOGRA for bringing to limelight a mental health issue that has received little or no attention in Nigeria.

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A Psychologist with Christian Women for Excellence and Empowerment in Nigeria Society (CWEENS), Grace Larai Iyamu stated that the content of the Training Manual is commendable and should be circulated for public knowledge. She added that a lot of people don’t even know the word ‘postpartum’ but the Training Manual is breaking it down for people to know that postpartum depression actually exists. A lot of women experienced postpartum depression and are still experiencing it but they do not know that it is a mental health condition which if not tackled in time, can lead to a lot of mental health damages. She urged the Federal Ministry of Health to adopt the Training Manual for national usage.

The Training Manual begins with discussions and trainings about postpartum depression, the types, signs and symptoms, causes, risk factors and myths around postpartum depression that will lead users to a clear understanding of the meaning of the term “postpartum depression.” The Training Manual continues with the importance of treating postpartum depression, different treatment methods and the importance of women caring for themselves after childbirth. The manual also covers the 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.

Nkechi Obiagbaoso-Udegbunam also urge women and girls of all ages to join the “Postpartum Depression Recovery and Support Group in Nigeria” a social media group created by IWOGRA to further support women.

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