Studies have found that postpartum mood disorders are prevalent among women especially within the first year after they have given birth. Up to 8% of new mothers experience depression after delivery. However, it is the escalation of baby blues that can cause the depression to reach levels that are dangerous. The escalation of depression results to psychosis hence the occurrence of tragic cases where women kill their offspring.
However, cases where women kill their babies are rare and if proper treatment and education were made readily available for these women, then cases would be much fewer. Infanticide by women suffering from postpartum psychosis has been reported in various cases and has been attributed to baby blues that women suffer from after child birth. Postpartum psychosis results to the development of out of control feelings by the new mother. These feelings increase fear and anxiety which may trigger her to commit infanticide (Sadock, Kaplan, & Sadock, 2007).
It is common for women to experience psychiatric illness after they have delivered compared to any other time in their lives. But there are instances when the woman suffers from the condition for more than two weeks with the severity intensifying as the mother depicts some sense of inadequacy to be a mother together with impaired concentration and incapacitated memory functioning. Some women are paralyzed by the fear and concern for the new born baby’s safety.
The thought that she is not a good mother makes the woman feel incapacitated to protect the infant and causes her to prefer her infant dead rather than alive and insecure. It is the aspect of clinical depression that includes obsessive compulsive symptoms thus behaviors that may include killing of own child by women in such conditions (Levy, n. d). In most cases, women do not willfully kill their infants but it is because of their mental state that they do so.
Women who suffer from postpartum psychosis have a temporary loss of the ability to make sound judgments hence would not be able to assess situations appropriately. Dobson & Sales (2000) point out that quite often, a woman who is suffering from postpartum psychosis undergoes an experience whereby she fears a sense of merging thus cannot be able to differentiate between where the baby begins and where she ends. It is because of the psychotic merger that prompts the mother to try and avoid loosing her sense of self.
In the process of trying to avoid loosing her sense of self, she may commit suicide or kill the infant. Research studies have found that there are several groups of parents who kill their infants. Some of the parents kill their children as a result of psychotic delusions. The parent may have delusions that dread the parent child merger or may have the belief that the child is trying to cause her harm thus they decide to kill these children. Some women kill their infants because of depression and hopelessness.
Poor socioeconomic status of some women causes them to kill their infants. Lack of social support after delivery is one subject that triggers postpartum psychosis in women hence the murder of infants. In relationships where there is no social support, the mother will most likely to lack or receive insufficient childcare utilities thus depression that may lead to postpartum psychosis that involves killing her own child (Sadock, Kaplan, & Sadock, 2007).
During these stress and depression times, the mother’s self esteem deteriorates and poor self esteem means vulnerable coping behaviors. Role and lifestyle changes as a result of child birth also create stress and internal conflict. The loss of independence for a new mother, loss of personal time, spontaneity, physical shape and sleep and in some instances loss of attention as a career woman or pregnant woman cause depression and create internal conflict for the mother. Vulnerability of stress and depression causes some women to kill their new born babies.
Basically, it is the emotional reactions that result from being a new mom that increase the degree of stress and depression and consequently the predominance of postpartum psychosis symptom of break with reality. The inability to discern what is real from what is not real after being a mother can cause the woman to develop violent thoughts about her new born baby. When she is not able to recognize that her thoughts are violent and pose a risk to the infant, killing the infant may be the resultant act (Levy, n. d).