Having a depressed spouse or partner after the joyful birth of your baby is no fun for anyone, but a woman’s best chances of overcoming postpartum depression will double if she has help from her spouse or partner. Many men don’t know how to best help their depressed spouse. Read on to learn ways that you and your family can identify postpartum depression in your wife or partner and what you can do to help her out.
Being a mother and wife are two entwined roles that demand a lot of responsibility. The overwhelming emotions, exhaustion, and sleepless nights can easily turn a happy new mom into a spiral of depression and anxiety. Through it all, her spouse or partner is often left feeling as though he has been chucked over the fence where he can’t reach or help his partner during this trying period. A few key actions will help your depressed spouse or partner during this trying time for the whole family.
Men tend to have precise boundaries when it comes to their “comfort zone.” In many cases, a new baby can smear these boundary lines and leave dad feeling uncomfortable and a little helpless. As a result, many men zip back off to work and immerse themselves in the task of being a good provider - after all, it’s a familiar routine, doing what they know best.
What must be considered is the fact that while having a baby is a team
effort, most moms feel that they must do most, if not all of the work.
If you’re feeling scared and uncomfortable, chances are that your spouse
is in the same boat and you’re both reluctant to talk about it.
Pull your own weight around the house and do anything you can to make your spouse’s responsibilities a little lighter. Clean up after yourself, offer to cook, give the baby a bath, or take the baby for a few hours so that mom can catch a nap. Suggest that family members offer to help out, such as preparing meals or babysitting any other children you might have, so the two of you can relax a bit. Try to encourage mom to do the things she enjoys, such as a hobby or spending an hour out with girlfriends. A depressed spouse or partner suffer with PPD can always use a compliment or two on her mothering abilities. A boost in confidence can go a long way when postpartum depression is at work.
Have you talked to your depressed spouse or partner about the changes you’ve noticed in her? Maybe she doesn’t seem as happy or confident as she was before baby. Perhaps she fails to care for herself or the baby properly. These are signs that mom may be struggling with depression. Ask her how she has been feeling lately. Explain the signs that you’ve noticed and encourage her to open up to you. If you don’t get much out of her or you fail to see an improvement after a good, long talk, then it may be necessary to get additional help.
If things don’t improve for a long time, or even get worse, regardless of your attempts to help, lighten the load and listen and communicate with your spouse, then it may be time to get some professional help. Many times women suffering with postpartum depression don’t completely understand how they feel or why they are feeling the way they are. She may be reluctant to admit her thoughts or feelings.
A professional therapist can encourage communication and may be the easiest person for a mom suffering with a postpartum mood disorder to talk with. Go with her if she wants you to, or stay home with the baby if she would prefer to go alone. Your emotional support and attempt at understanding (even if you don’t quite understand) will be enormously helpful to her until she recovers.
Her physician can also help her with a recovery plan. Encourage her to make an appointment.
Be patient, and remember, postpartum depression is not forever and more importantly, can be treated.
The health information in this website is for educational purposes only and is not providing medical or professional advice. It should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. If you have or suspect you might have any health problems, you should consult a physician.
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"No mother has to suffer from PPD needlessly. This is a fact. But until you know what you're up against, you'll still be trapped - without knowing why! A typical example is the common misconception that depression is "all just in the mind." Your first step is to keep an open mind; and allow Laura to take you by the hand and guide you step by step through the PPD universe. Using a "wellness" approach, and with her usual friendly and informative style, trust me, she can help you help yourself getting out of the rut - naturally - in no time."
- Naturopath Alex Leong, B.A.S.M.
“Laura realizes the interconnections between mind, body, and spirit and offers down-to-earth, practical guidelines in harmonizing them.”
- Karen Szillat, Early Childhood Educator and Peace Advocate Author of Empowering The Children: 12 Universal Values Your Child Must Learn to Succeed In Life
“I wish I had had this valuable book after my baby was born. Fantastic information!”
- Gigi Murfitt, Author of Caregiver’s Devotions To Go and My Message is C.L.E.A.R.