Having a baby is a time of joy, but adjusting to a new baby in the family can be very stressful and demanding for both parents. Postnatal depression commonly known as PND can make this time even more confusing and distressing. But there are ways to support a woman or man experiencing PND.
New mommy to be’s are usually tired after giving birth, at least for few weeks. Commonly known as the baby blues, this is because women are exhausted after giving birth, taking care of the child and getting the house back in order. However, if this continues even after few weeks, (exhaustion, sadness, and anxiety) these could be signs of something much more serious. There are other symptoms like:
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive weight loss
- Panic attacks
- Lack of concentration
- Racing thoughts
- Some physical symptoms: Stomach cramps, headaches, nausea
Some of the things that you can do to help her are:
- Help around the house
- Always be responsive
- Limit the time of visitors
- Accompany the new mommy to be to doctor’s appointments and grocery shopping
- Remember your concerns and talk to her doctor/therapist about them
- Sit with her, empathise
- Accompany her to doctor’s appointments
- Figure out channels that would help her communicate her problems easily
- Throw in a load of laundry. Order take-out for dinner.
- Give her time, no TV, no friends and no dogs or kids.
- Educate yourself about PPD, read the books your wife gives you
- Call her at different times to find out if they are okay
- Let her get as much rest as she wants
- Call for her friend if that is what she needs
- Listen to her
- Be patient with her
- Try to find some ‘us’ time
- Make a list, together, of the things that may provide an outlet for her so you can both refer to it when she needs a break.
- Encourage her to get as much rest as possible.
- Look her in the eyes when she talks to you.
- Intervene so she can get some uninterrupted sleep.
What You Should NOT Do
Her moods and emotional vulnerability will get in the way of good communication for now. for example
- Here’s what you’re up against:
- If you tell her that you love her… she won’t believe you.
- If you tell her she’s beautiful… she’ll assume you’re lying.
- If you tell her she’s a good mother…she’ll think you’re just saying that to make her feel better.
- If you tell her not to worry about anything… she’ll think you have no idea how bad she feels.
- If you tell her that you have to work late… she’ll think you don’t care.
- If you tell her you’ll come home early to help her… she’ll feel guilty.
But you can:
- Tell her she will get better.
- Tell her that you know she feels terrible.
- Tell her she is doing all the right things to get better (therapy, medication, etc.).
- Tell her it’s okay to make mistakes; she doesn’t have to do everything perfectly.
- Tell her she can still be a good mother and feel terrible.
- Tell her that you know she’s doing the best she can.
- Tell her that you love her.
- Tell her that you know how hard she’s working at this right now.
- Tell her to let you know what she needs you to do to help.
- Tell her your baby will be fine.
It’s been found that talk therapy is one of the most effective ways of treating depression. However, this is often combined with medication. Your healthcare provider will help you choose from the traditional and alternative options available. The important thing is to get help from licensed professionals. Often, you might need to try multiple health treatments to figure out which one is right and most suited to you and your family’s benefit.