‘Not enough done to educate people about centres for unwanted babies’

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Non-governmental organisations say not enough is being done to educate and inform society about care centres for unwanted babies. This is after two infants were found dumped by their mothers in Durban.

Statistics of infants being abandoned in South Africa are alarming.

Author of “Through the Window-How I beat PND,” Lauren Shapiro, shares her experiences in her book about perinatal distress. The mother of three says she suffered from PND in her third pregnancy. It caused depression and heightened anxiety.

“When I was having thoughts like that, I knew something was very much wrong and not normal. I didn’t know what to do about it. I didn’t know who to speak to. I thought people would want to lock me up and take away my children. So I didn’t say anything. I can empathise with women who do drastic things. I felt very desperate for a lot of the time. I was blessed to have a supportive partner.”

Statistics show that more than 3 000 babies survive abandonment in the country every year.

General Manager of the Department of Social Development, Vusi Khoza, highlighted trauma as one of the aspects that may lead to it.

“There are various reasons why mothers abandon their babies. One has to do with the trauma due to a traumatic experience, in some instances you may find that the father neglected the mother and she is usually quite stressed and doesn’t have emotional connection with the baby. I don’t think we have done enough in educating people that there is help. We want to put across to the mothers out there that there is help out there.”

Despite all the odds, two babies dumped recently survived. One was rescued from a storm water pipe in Newlands East while another premature infant was found in a medical waste bin in a local hospital.

Joe Teunissen, Caretaker of a children’s home, has adopted a child.

“Four years ago, I fell in love and adopted a little boy and I already have two teenage daughters and I never thought I will be having another baby. He changed our lives, he made me realise that I am a passionate advocate for adoption and children rights.”

Teunissen says many mothers are not well informed about organisations that can take care of unwanted babies. Being better informed about them, could lead to a decrease in the numbers of babies abandoned at birth.

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