Postpartum depression a ‘menace’ that needs scrutiny

todayMarch 19, 2024 35 1

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Psychologist, Dr Sath Cooper, says there could be something deeper in the case where a mother and a grandmother buried two newborn babies in a shallow grave at their home in Hammanskraal.

According to authorities, the 32-year-old woman had given birth to triplets of which one was stillborn while the other one died after two days.

Police say the women’s 51-year-old mother helped in concealing the births by burying the two babies.

It is understood that community members had informed the police of a woman who had given birth and never registered the babies at Home Affairs.

The mother and her remaining baby are in hospital receiving medical attention.

Speaking to YNews, Dr Cooper says no mother or grandmother would do this to their own child.

He says there could be serious circumstances that could’ve led to the 32-year-old and her mother’s actions.

Dr Cooper says the mother of the children could also be suffering from postpartum depression from losing her children, among others.

Postpartum depression usually occurs after childbirth.

Some women get the “baby blues,” or feel sad, worried, or tired within a few days of giving birth. Health experts say if these feelings don’t go away after more than two weeks of having given birth, the woman might be suffering from postpartum depression.

Dr Copper says this is a condition that needs to be diagnosed by health officials.

He says the fact that the grandmother also played a role shows how complex the situation is.


Postpartum depression is said to be a serious mental health condition that involves the brain and affects behaviour and physical health. New mothers might not feel connected to their baby or might not love or care for the baby. These feelings can be mild to severe.

Symptoms might include insomnia, loss of appetite, intense irritability and difficulty bonding with the baby.

Untreated, the condition may last months or longer.

Dr Cooper says postpartum is an issue that is not spoken about in the country, something, which he describes as concerning.

According to the South African Medical Journal (SAMJ), South Africa has a high prevalence of postpartum depression with studies reporting 30 – 35% of women diagnosed with major depressive disorder in the postpartum period.

The organisation says South Africa has a large population of women living with HIV who are at even greater risk of PPD.

PPD is said to be the second most common cause of maternal death, contributing to 20% of all such deaths.

Postpartum has been described as ‘A thief that steals motherhood’, with potential consequences including diminished mother-to-child bonding, impaired child growth and development, impaired child cognitive development and underdevelopment.

During the conversation, Dr Copper also pointed out that proper assessment needs to be done for the mothers that are found to have either killed or done something bad to their children.

Written by: Nonhlanhla Harris

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