No matter how much you’ve looked forward to it or prepared for it, having a baby is stressful. With sleep deprivation, new responsibilities, and lack of time for yourself, many new moms feel like they’re on an emotional rollercoaster.
According to research, most women experience at least some symptoms of the baby blues immediately after childbirth. It is caused by the sudden change in hormones after delivery, combined with stress, isolation, sleep deprivation, and fatigue. Moms may feel more tearful, overwhelmed, and emotionally fragile.
The baby blues are perfectly normal, but if your symptoms don’t go away after a few weeks or get worse, you may be suffering from postpartum depression.
Unlike the baby blues, postpartum depression is a more severe problem you cannot ignore. It looks like baby blues in the beginning. Still, the difference is that with postpartum depression, the symptoms are more severe and prolonged-lasting such as suicidal thoughts or the inability to care for your newborn.
Being the partner of someone struggling with postpartum depression is an enormous challenge. You may feel worried for your partner, concerned about your baby, and overwhelmed with the responsibility of helping your partner feel better. You may also even feel anger and resentment about what is going on.
But rest assured that postpartum depression is treatable. You have an essential role in helping your partner recover, and here are some straightforward ways to help make that happen.
In general, your central role when dealing with your partner’s postpartum depression is to be a listener and provide a safe space. Good communication may likely get in your partner’s mood and emotional vulnerability. Listen to your partner and allow them to express their feelings without judgment. Avoid telling her she should get over this, or tell her that you are tired of her feeling this way. Instead, ask her to know she’s doing the best she can and that you love her and your baby will be fine.
Help your partner understand that you don’t blame them for how they are feeling. Help her know that what they are experiencing is temporary and that she will feel like herself again.
Support for those living with postpartum depression needs to be emotional. Still, there are a few practical ways you can support your partner during the postpartum phase:
- Make yourself available.
- Let her sleep.
- Help around the house.
- Set limits with friends and family.
- Throw in a load of laundry. Take care of dinner.
- Accompany her to doctor’s appointments.
- Educate yourself about PPD (Postpartum Depression).
- 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.
- Perhaps the most important thing you can do to help is just with her. Sit with her. Let her know you’re there for her and listen to her.
Remember to try and postpone any important decisions until after she feels better. Decisions about childcare, work, and breastfeeding will feel enormous to her now. Help her sort this out by discussing the pros and cons of each decision.
Being a caregiver for someone experiencing postpartum depression can take a toll on your mental health. It can really be upsetting to see your partner this way, and you may blame yourself for what has happened. And you may also feel overwhelmed and depleted in your role as caretaker.
Remember that you don’t have to do this alone. If you have other trusted adults in your life, especially one that your partner trusts, ask for help. You’d be surprised at how many people want to help your family. It truly takes a village, and sometimes all you have to do is reach out for your town to appear in your time of need.