Postpartum depression is not only confusing to the affected mum but also to the people around her. Taking care of that mum is not an easy task too. It can at times be frustrating and tiring. Other times you may feel like your efforts are not appreciated. However, giving a hand is a valuable service that the mom will forever thank you for, once she recovers. Here are tips to help a friend or partner struggling with PPD.
Table of Contents
- 1.Take Time to Understand Postpartum Depression
- 2. Help the Mum Realize That All is Not Okay.
- 3. Be Right There
- 4. Help Her Find the Right Resources
- 5. Pamper her With Self-care Gifts
- 6. Lend a Listening Ear
- 7. Get Some Fresh Air with Her
- 8. Allow Some Quiet Time
- 9. Help with Meal Prepping
- 10. Provide Opportunities for Baby-mum Bonding
1.Take Time to Understand Postpartum Depression
You will be of most help if you gain some factual knowledge of postpartum depression. Read through blogs, books, pamphlets, and other resources to know the symptoms and management of PPD. This way you will know when to seek help, when she is improving or worsening, when to seek emergency help and more importantly, you will know where to seek help.
2. Help the Mum Realize That All is Not Okay.
Point out the emotional reactions that make you think she has postpartum depression. You do not have to tell them that you feel they have PPD directly, but instead say something like, “Do you feel okay? I feel that you need to see a doctor.” It may not be easy to talk about it, but ignoring the symptoms is only a recipe for disaster.
You should emphasize that though they feel guilty, sad and inadequate as a mother, they are a successful parent and that the feelings will come to pass. The depression monster makes them feel like the pain will last a lifetime. To free them from this trap, keep reminding them that it is temporary and not a destiny.
3. Be Right There
Be prepared to drop everything to help the mom, especially if you are her partner. Offer to take her to a mental care provider and talk on her behalf when she cannot. Sometimes it is hard for the mum to realize what is out of the norm and may not even see the need to tell the therapist or doctor about it. If she misses out any key details, you will be in a better position to bring them up.
Help her around the house and with the baby too. Take turns in giving care to the baby so that she can catch some sleep. Sleep deprivation is one of the critical factors that complicate and exacerbate birth related depression. Also, go to the stores and run other errands for her. All these activities burden her, and if you assist, you help to relieve a lot of pressure.
If you cannot be there physically, show love and support through phone calls, emails, posts, and messages.
4. Help Her Find the Right Resources
Do some background research and recommend PPD resources like DVDs, resource centers, and support groups or organizations that work with PPD mums. You can also offer to get her a good therapist, drive her for support meetings and take care of the baby at the waiting lounge as the therapy sessions go on.
5. Pamper her With Self-care Gifts
Most of the times, mums concentrate on the welfare of the infant and forget their own. Surprise her with self-care items and ideas to recharge and keep herself in check. You can get them a gift card or subscription to an exercise class, body scrubs, bath bombs and salts, fancy scented candles, a personalized pillow, a collection of her favorite music or outdoor apparel.
6. Lend a Listening Ear
Encourage them to talk about their feelings and thoughts. When in pain, it may be difficult to articulate emotions, but it takes your simple words to keep her talking. Once the first statement comes out and you show that you are actively listening, she will effortlessly pour out. It is through talking that a mom will find relief of the depressive cloud. She may need to vent, and it is totally fine- just hold your tongue and listen. It is the best way to get out the negative feelings and being there to hear it is the best thing to do.
If you are not sure about what to say back, just reassure her that she is stronger than she feels, that she is a great mother, and that depression will come to pass. Sometimes, you do not have to say anything. Just listening, showing concern, offering a shoulder to cry on, or hugging means a lot.
7. Get Some Fresh Air with Her
A change of scenery can be of great benefit to lifting moods. You can take a short walk with her, visit a park, go to the beach, hang out at a coffee shop or sit in her lounge to wind down some time. Make the outing time short and the activities simple. Overwhelming or exhausting activities will only be counterproductive.
8. Allow Some Quiet Time
Being alone with no noise, distractions or responsibilities can be so therapeutic at times. Allow for some “me time” when you sense that she needs a break. If she has older kids, offer to take them out for a playdate. However, do not confuse social withdrawal for mom breaks. When a mom does not want to interact with others, she pulls away from you, avoids phone calls, and even turn down offers to visit her.
9. Help with Meal Prepping
With all those depressive emotions and apathy, eating a balanced meal is not a priority for most PPD mums. Instead, they indulge in unhealthy fast foods. You can either order a healthy meal for her, show up at her home and help her prepare dinner or even better, prep meals for the whole week and stack them in the fridge. You can also do some veggies and fruits shopping for her if the option of cooked food is not convenient.
10. Provide Opportunities for Baby-mum Bonding
Mums with postpartum depression often have the maternal disconnect with their babies. The anticipated bundle of joy becomes a source of constant worry and guilt. Helping them bond, admire the beautiful elements of a child and reminisce about the joy of motherhood, will help to recreate the attachment. You can do this by encouraging her to have skin to skin contact with the baby in a quiet environment, try baby massage (or even take her to a baby massage class where she will interact with other moms and their babies), maintain eye contact, play, talk, touch, and breastfeed the baby.
Finally, do not tire to give your help. Depression can hang on for months or even more than a year, but with the right treatment and support, it can be way easier and shorter. Remain positive all along, and keep working towards better days.