Supporting Moms with Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is real and it can happen to any post-delivery mother.
Clinically, postpartum depression is a severe depression that occurs in women post-delivery. Treatment, symptoms and reaction time can vary from woman to woman. It can show up anytime within a year after delivery; however, most commonly it appears within the first three months.
Just as it sounds, postpartum depression leaves a new mother feeling depressed with symptoms such as: irritability, loss of energy, changes in appetite, feelings of guilt, withdrawn emotions, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, negative feelings towards the baby and thoughts of suicide or death. Any mother suffering from these symptoms should seek medical help immediately, but there are some things daddies can do to help too. Daddy Nickell, father of 6, suggests the following:
First, daddies can watch for the signs of postpartum depression and encourage wives to speak openly with someone whether that someone be daddy, a friend or a counselor. Support groups can be extremely helpful; maybe she doesn’t want to talk to you about it, but she might talk to other women in similar situations.
It is very important for Daddy to “be there” for mommy. Be present, be real. She needs to know that you truly want to help – get up in the night, change the diaper, etc. If you volunteer your services, make sure you mean it. Otherwise you are just going to add yourself to the list of reasons she is on a slippery slope.
Take some weight off of her shoulders by jumping in and helping with new-baby duties and household work. She will be thankful even if you butter burnt toast for dinner.
Having a new baby in the house brings up all kinds of new emotions, duties and routines; these changes can be hard on both mom and dad. Trust me, I know. I try as hard as I can to help around the house, make sure our cupboards are stocked with necessities and create time for Mommy Nickell, and myself to sit and breathe. The little things can be the most important, so sit on the couch and rub her back or maybe even her feet.
If you’ve just had a baby, watch for the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression. Help your partner seek medical attention and support at the onset of the symptoms. There is a chance you and your new mommy will be lucky enough to sneak past this scare unscathed, because you were able to work on things together, take time to breathe and help with your part of the daily routines and activities.
Being truly, unconditionally, altruistically supportive is half the battle. You know how much you love and support your wife, but don’t forget to show her daily.