Supporting someone who may be experiencing a postpartum mood disorder is crucial for their well-being. Postpartum Depression affects approximately 20% or more women after the birth of their baby. Unlike the baby blues, Postpartum Mood Disorder can be a long journey and may affect their ability to cope with a new baby. Early detection and intervention can help new mothers who are at risk. It is important to be in tune and communicate with one another. Having a baby and becoming a parent is a life-altering milestone that brings people so much joy. It can also bring a lot of worry and stress to the forefront as well; not everyone anticipates the mental health challenges that can come after giving birth.
Baby Blues is very common in the first two weeks after birth. Your partner may experience a lot of emotional changes, but these changes are fairly mild. Postpartum Mood Disorders differ in a way that the symptoms are more severe, lasting longer than those first two weeks and start to interfere with day-to-day life.
How can you help your partner?
Family members and friends must learn how to cope with the postpartum depression of their loved ones. It is common for loved ones to feel helpless watching someone they love suffer from postpartum depression. Often it can lead to their own depression, anxiety, or sadness. (You may want to also read our post on PPMD in partners HERE)
It is so important to encourage open communication. Creating a safe and non-judgmental space for the birthing person to express their feelings and concerns lets them know that you are there to listen without offering immediate solutions. Acknowledge the birthing person’s feelings without judgment. Let them know that their emotions are valid and that they are not alone.
Learning and educating yourself about postpartum mood disorders, including symptoms and risk factors will help you provide informed support. This will also allow you to help build your partner’s support network of friends, family, or support groups for individuals experiencing postpartum mood disorders.
To alleviate some of the stressors in their life, offering practical support like assisting with daily tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, and childcare, can be a big win in a day! Encouraging them to rest while you care for the baby and recommending that they take breaks when needed is also a sign of support. Remind the birthing person to prioritize self-care activities, such as getting enough sleep, eating well, and engaging in activities they enjoy. A self-care routine does great things for the mind and soul. Promoting healthy lifestyle choices as a family can help ease some of those PPMD symptoms by encouraging regular physical activity, a balanced diet, and avoiding substances like alcohol or drugs that can exacerbate mood disorders.
Have a conversation with the birthing person about seeking professional help from a healthcare provider, such as an obstetrician, midwife, or mental health professional. Offering your assistance in finding resources and making appointments if needed can take a huge load off of your partner and shows them how much you care about your family and their mental well-being. Mental health professionals can assess the severity of the symptoms and recommend appropriate interventions, which may include therapy, support groups, or medication.
Postpartum mood and anxiety disorders affect the whole family. Remember that you will get through this with help and support. There is no magic cure, and sometimes recovery seems slow, but things will keep improving if you stick to a plan of healthcare, support, and communication.
If there are concerns about the person’s safety or the safety of your baby, it is imperative to seek immediate professional help or contact emergency services.
To get help, here are some local resources if you are in the Waterloo Region:
http://www.postpartum.net/ Postpartum Support International 1-800-944-4773
Together Waterloo keeps an up-to-date list of local PPMD resources https://togetherwaterloo.ca/
For immediate support Crisis Hotline for Ontario Mental Health & Addiction Treatment Services | Connex Ontario 1-866-531-2600
Our postpartum doula services can help support your family during a tough time too. Postpartum Doula Services Kitchener Waterloo | Help & Support (balancingbirthbaby.com)