According to reports, one out of five women experiences postpartum depression after giving birth. This is quite different from what we call ‘baby blues’ where it can last for a couple of weeks only. Postpartum depression on the hand takes longer and greatly affects the mother and the people around her. It is as real as it can get and new moms are definitely not faking it. It is a genuine struggle.
To further understand this condition, we have gathered some of the common symptoms of postpartum depression.
- Having a hard time connecting with the baby
- Extreme or severe mood swings
- Staying away from families and friends
- Crying most of the time
- Insomnia or in other cases, sleeping too much
- Extreme irritability
- Feeling of guilt, shame, inadequacy among many others
- Anxiety attacks
- Thoughts of harming one’s self and the baby
If you are a family or a friend of someone who is suffering from postpartum depression, it is also important that you know how to handle them. By doing so, you are helping to speed up their recovery. So the question is, how do you do it? Here are few tips from the experts.
Do not invalidate her feelings
More often than not, mothers with postpartum depression feel like they are incapable of being good mothers, and that they are not doing their best. Avoid saying, ‘No. You are doing a great job’ or similar lines that might invalidate their feelings. It will just worsen it because they might think they are too dumb or weak to feel that way. That will just add up to their already heavy emotional burden. You can say, ‘That must be really hard’ or probably share a similar experience to give her ideas on how she can deal with it.
Offer help (without waiting for her to ask)
Be of help because mothers suffering from postpartum depression need this, even if they don’t ask for it. You can do it subtly like carrying the baby while they are having a quick shower. Or perhaps, washing the dishes if you feel she needs the extra time to rest. It’s not enough that you say ‘Call me when you need me.’ Your actions should be always bigger than your words. BE THERE.
Ask questions about her, not the baby
We know that it can get exciting to ask a lot of questions about the newborn, but it is essential that we also check the mother. If you are visiting, you might want to ask how is she in general, how is she coping up. Basically, let her talk about herself. You should talk less and listen more. Create an environment wherein she will feel that she can share practically everything with you.
Celebrate small wins
It is also important that small victories are celebrated. In the case of mothers, you can throw a simple tea party once you found out that she was able to manage her time more efficiently with the baby. Or you can just bring breakfast after hearing that she feels better now.
It will help if you observe the behavior of your family or friend who is suffering from postpartum depression. From there, you can already assess where you can offer help. Do it not just for the mother, more so for the child who needs love and optimum care from her.