September is Infant Mortality Awareness month. It is also Suicide Awareness Month. Earlier this month, I shared a post on Infant Loss and Preterm Births. Preterm birth is one of the leading causes of infant mortality (Infant death before the first birthday). Sadly, infanticide or homicide is another leading cause of infant deaths.
Homicide is the 13th leading cause of death among infants (i.e., children aged <1 year) in the United States. Infant homicides occurring within the first 24 hours of life (i.e., neonaticide) are primarily perpetrated by the mother, who might be of young age, unmarried, have lower educational attainment, and is most likely associated with concealment of an unintended pregnancy and nonhospital birthing. After the first day of life, infant homicides might be associated with other factors (e.g., child abuse and neglect or caregiver frustration). Source: cdc.gov
Mothers do not only murder their babies, they are committing suicide at an increasingly alarming rate as well.
Key statistics and studies on maternal suicide:
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among women 25-34 years of age and has steadily increased in prevalence since 2001. Mostafavi, 2020
- Maternal suicide is still the leading cause of direct deaths occurring within a year after the end of pregnancy
- It is the second largest cause of direct maternal deaths occurring during or within 42 days of the end of pregnancy
- It remains the fifth most common cause of women’s deaths during pregnancy and its immediate aftermath.
Source: Maternal Mental Health Alliance
As Christians, what can we do to prevent and reduce maternal and infant mortality?
- Be your neighbor’s keeper: Provide social support to new and expecting mothers. Social support reduces the risk for developing perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs), one of the most common complication of pregnancy that contributes to maternal suicide.
- Support pregnant teen mothers and unmarried mothers: The social stigma of having an unwanted pregnancy contributes to abortion and suicide. Love is a weapon for healing and restoration.
- Be intentional about baby gifts: Don’t primarily focus on buying baby items for new or expecting mothers. Consider buying the gift of perinatal education or mentorship. The gift of perinatal education and mentorship through Little Ones PIECMH provides life-saving professional social, spiritual, and emotional support to mothers. They will be spiritually and emotionally trained for motherhood. We receive training for many things in life, training spiritually and emotionally for parenthood should not be an exception.
- Prayer and Spiritual Support: Pregnancy is a spiritual experience. Families need spiritual support throughout the perinatal period. Praying and providing free resources to support the spiritual growth of new and expecting parents makes a difference.
Together, we can prevent maternal and infant mortality caused by the absence of spiritual, social, and emotional support.
Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 (KJV)
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Say this: Heavenly Father,
I acknowledge that I am a sinner. I believe you exist and you sent Jesus to die for me. I receive your love and forgiveness. Reveal yourself to me. I accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Amen
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Temitope Michael-Olaniran (Fafore) is a wife and #boymom. She is the author of A Christian Mother’s Creed. She created this space to share spiritual experiences of motherhood, provide emotional support to families and develop a virtual community where Christian mothers can share Biblical viewpoints on parenting and other aspects of life.
As a lifelong learner with a passion for mental health, Temi is a PhD student (Infant and Early Childhood Development specializing in Mental Health and Developmental Disorders). She is a Perinatal, Infant, and Early Childhood Mental Health consultant, Certified New Parent Educator, trained Postpartum Doula, and U.S. Army veteran.
Click here to contact Temi