All of us have heard scary stories about postpartum depression and how that has ruined families. However, what you have not heard about is the post-natal depression, which your partner might experience after the arrival of your baby. What needs to be understood is while having a baby is a time of joy, but adjusting to that tiny human can often turn out to be stressful and demanding for both parents. While there are ways you, as a dad, can support a woman experiencing post-natal depression, you also need to understand what it entails and that it can also prove to be taxing for you.
What Should You Be Looking For
Postpartum depression is a broad term and there are many healthcare providers who uses the term ‘perinatal’ instead of postpartum. Perinatal, because the term covers the whole time around the birth of the baby. What is important to remember that perinatal mood and anxiety disorders can manifest in multiple ways.
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, anxiety) these could be signs of something much more serious. There are other symptoms like:
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive weight loss
- Panic attacks
- Lack in concentration
- Racing thoughts
- Some physical symptoms: Stomach cramps, headaches, nausea
What Should You Do
Some of the things that you can do are:
- Help around the house
- Limit the time of visitors
- Always be responsive
- 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, empathize
- Figure out channels that would help her communicate her problems easily
- Give her time, no TV, no friends and no dogs or kids.
- Call her at different times to find out if they are okay
- Ask her if there is anything that you can do to help
- 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
If you want to know how you can help more, here’s a video that will guide you:
What You Should NOT Do
- Do not yell or shout at her for this
- Do not tell her that everyone feels this way, its normal
- Don’t tell her to be happy
- Don’t pass a judgement about her behavior
- Don’t discuss this with strangers in front of her
- Don’t undermine her and her feelings
- Don’t tell that she is strong enough or this is a phase and that she will not need help
- Don’t ever tell her that this is the price of having a baby
- Don’t tell her to keep herself distracted
- Don’t tell her she will snap out of this
It’s been found that talk therapy is one of the most effective ways in 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 your and your family’s benefit.
The negative consequences can be avoided; however, it is important to get help as soon as possible. Sometimes, marriages can also be saved because of the right treatment at the right time. Remember, it’s a temporary phase and with treatment, you and your partner both would recover.