If you need someone to talk to before, during, or after pregnancy, the National Maternal Mental Health Hotline offers 24/7 free and confidential support in English and Spanish. The maternal health hotline can be reached via call or text at 1-833-943-5746. People in crisis can also dial 988, to connect with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
A Colorado newborn’s mom was charged with the child’s murder after police said she strangled the two-month-old baby before attempting to take her own life.
Anna Louise Englund’s husband, Obajae “Christian” Clark, told police his wife had been sleeping in separate rooms from the rest of the family for fear of their safety before she took their young son with her last weekend and left the house.
Clark called officers about 4:30 p.m. Saturday for a possible mental health crisis when he discovered the two missing and said he was worried about Englund’s wellbeing because she had a history with postpartum depression.
Officers were unable to locate Englund for six hours, but eventually made contact with her at a local hospital. Her child was taken into the hospital for treatment as she was taken into custody by police. Englund’s son died a short time later.
After police collected swabbed her hands and collected her clothing for evidence, she was taken back to the hospital to treat a cut on the right side of her neck, stating she had caused the injury.
Englund later told officers she had made her way to the hospital because she had killed her child.
Lack of sleep had become a normal occurrence in the weeks leading up strangling her son, according to court records. Because Englund believed she would not survive with the little sleep she was getting, she did not want her son to suffer in life like she had, the arrest affidavit shows.
As she paced around her house, Englund said she began to worry about all of the things that could happen to her child because “the world was crazy.” She also said she worried about what could happen to her son if she left him behind, the arrest affidavit stated.
While Clark was in the bathroom, she made an escape. A couple blocks away from her home, Englund strangled her baby to death and cut her neck with a steak knife she purchased from Target a couple days prior, according to the arrest affidavit.
Later that same day, Englund decided to make her way up to Denver to take her own life. Unsuccessful, she made her way back to Boulder to leave her belongings with her partner before she was sent to prison, the arrest affidavit stated.
After driving herself to the hospital, Englund contacted Boulder police in the parking lot. Englund acknowledged her actions were wrong but stated her lack of sleep had impacted her ability to function, according to the arrest affidavit.
Since May, Englund has been hospitalized twice because she was having a mental health crisis. Appointments to see a therapist were made, but she was unable to attend the appointments due to the sleep deprivation, according to the arrest affidavit.
“Our hearts are with the child’s family during this terrible and difficult time. This is a tragic situation, and we are thinking about the child’s loved ones as they grieve all that has happened,” Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold said.
Englund showed signs of postpartum depression, husband said
Englund’s husband told police his wife has a history with postpartum depression.
About 1 in every 7 women can develop postpartum depression, according to- the National Institutes of Health, which can occur at the beginning of pregnancy or within four to six weeks after giving birth.
Postpartum psychosis is an even more rare and severe condition than postpartum depression and can “hijack the brain,” perinatal psychiatrist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School Nancy Byatt told USA Today earlier this year.
Fewer than 5% of new moms experiencing postpartum psychosis engage in violent behavior such as infanticide, according to Postpartum Support International, a nonprofit organization educating the emotional changes in women during pregnancy and after pregnancy.
Symptoms can include feeling confused and lost, having obsessive thoughts about your baby, hallucinating or having delusions, sleep problems, paranoia and, at its most severe, making attempts to harm yourself or your baby. It can lead to life-threatening thoughts or behaviors and requires immediate treatment.
“With psychotic symptoms, that’s when you get really concerned,” Byatt said. “People may hear voices other people don’t hear. They may see things other people don’t see. They may hear voices telling them to hurt their baby. These are altruistic delusions.”
While it is common for a new mom to experience a wide range of emotions after childbirth, feelings of sadness or tearfulness tend to decrease within two weeks of having the baby.
However, postpartum depression tends to last longer and severely impacts a mom’s ability to return to normal function and tends to affect the relationship with the infant, the NIH reports
Common postpartum depression symptoms
- Depressed mood or severe mood swings
- Crying too much
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
- Inability to sleep, called insomnia, or sleeping too much
- Overwhelming tiredness or loss of energy
- Less interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Intense irritability and anger
- Fear that you’re not a good mother
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
- Reduced ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Recurring thoughts of death or suicide