Don’t underestimate how crucial your role is in your wife or partner’s postpartum depression support. It’s crucial. She needs you to be there for her and your child.
Yes, it can be extremely challenging to watch the woman you love deal with overwhelming, intense, and unwanted negative emotions. But having postpartum depression is not her fault. It’s not your baby’s fault, and it’s not your fault. PPD is a mental illness affecting 1 in 7 women after giving birth. (It’s important to note, that some women actually begin to develop postpartum depression during pregnancy.)
With that said, helping your partner or wife through postpartum depression means you have to try to do your best to be supportive and nonjudgmental, no matter how hard it gets while she is recovering. She and the baby need you. (And of course your feelings are valid as well!)
Prepare Yourself for Challenging Situations
When considering how to help someone with postpartum depression, as your partner’s most constant source of support, it’s important you’re prepared for some pretty challenging situations
you didn’t expect. Perhaps you thought the first few months would be blissful and joyous. Don’t worry, that’s common, thanks to Hollywood’s glamorization of parenting newborns.
That’s not to say things won’t ever be that way. Postpartum depression is 100% treatable. With your help and the help of a mental health professional specializing in postpartum depression support, life can return to a happier, less turbulent state.
Supporting someone with postpartum depression means you may have to deal with your wife or partner pushing you away. She may get angry or aggressive with you. But do your best not to take it personally. She’s dealing with some pretty hefty unwanted emotions.
The Do’s and Don’ts when preparing for how to help someone with postpartum depression:
- DO validate her feelings and do your best to empathize with her.
- DON’T invalidate her with comments like, “You should be happy,” or “What do you have to be sad about?”
- DO listen without judgment to your partner or wife with postpartum depression as they express their feelings.
- DON’T attempt to fix her feelings. You may be tempted to try to find a solution. But the best thing to do is listen.
- DO let your wife or partner know what they’re feeling won’t last forever and that it’s not their fault.
- DON’T compare her or your family to other mothers or families. Everyone’s parenting journey is unique.
- DO help find qualified postpartum depression support from a qualified mental health professional or treatment program.
- DON’T pull away from her. While it can be frustrating and hurtful to deal with your wife or partner with PPD, it’s critical she knows you’re there for her, no matter what.
- DO be patient. Recovery from any kind of mental health issue takes time.
How to Help Someone With Postpartum Depression: Practical Tips
You already know you need to be there for your partner or wife with postpartum depression. But there are also some practical things you can do. One of the most challenging aspects of PPD is that, as new parents, you simply don’t have a lot of time to do everyday things.
Your partner is dealing with intense negative emotions while simultaneously feeling sleep-deprived, unable to eat nutritiously, and likely feeling neglected in the self-care department.
That’s where your role of supporting someone with postpartum depression really shines. Here are some things you can do to help support your partner during this difficult time.
1. Get to Work Around the House
First, you and your partner need to understand that having a spotless house is absolutely not expected after having a baby. Of course, it would be nice, but who has the time to do all the laundry, dishes, and dust when you’re dealing with changed schedules, sleep deprivation, and in your case, postpartum depression?
Remind your partner of this fact. It’s okay to have a messy house. Really.
Supporting someone with postpartum depression means stepping up around the house as much as possible. Even if it’s only one extra chore per day, it’s something. Consider sitting down with your partner and developing a list of things that need to be done in order of importance.
2. Give Her Some “Me Time”
Dealing with postpartum depression on top of being exhausted and dealing with a new post-baby body, your partner likely feels deprived of “me time.” Part of becoming a new mom is adopting a new identity, which can feel overwhelming, especially when they can’t seem to find themselves in their new identity.
Something you can do when delivering postpartum depression support is to give her some time for herself. Even if it’s just an hour a week, or even a daily thing, giving her time to go for a walk, meet up with a friend, or participate in a hobby will go far in helping her feel better.
3. Gift Her Time to Sleep
One of the biggest struggles in becoming a new parent is the change in sleeping patterns. Even if you have a “good sleeper,” newborns need to eat a lot and can have erratic sleeping patterns.
And that means you do too.
Plus, anyone can tell you when you’re exhausted, emotions are magnified. So giving your wife or partner time to sleep is an invaluable gift. (We should add that even when she’s feeling better, giving her time to sleep is always a great idea.)
4. Provide Nutritious Snacks and Meals
Food. It’s necessary. But it’s so time-consuming and annoying to think about when you’re exhausted and dealing with PPD.
Reaching for unhealthy convenient snacks to stave off hunger maybe her first instinct, especially if she’s breastfeeding. But your wife or partner needs to eat nutritiously.
Make sure there are nutritious snacks and drinks available for your partner to grab when she’s hungry. And if you know how to cook healthy meals, that’s even better. Or, you can always order out, so she doesn’t have to worry about cooking.
5. Be There For Her – Literally
If your partner is home alone with the baby, dealing with postpartum depression while you are at work, she’s likely to feel isolated and lonely. While we know it’s not always possible to shift your work schedule to allow you more time at home, if you can, do it.
But if that’s just not possible, talk with your partner about who she can trust to have with her while you’re at work. Make a schedule and invite trusted supportive friends and relatives to come to stay with her for a day while you are at work. It doesn’t have to be every day. But just not being alone can help her tremendously.
6. Let Her Know She’s Doing the Best She Can
One of the struggles that come with battling PPD is feeling like you aren’t a good parent. Moms with postpartum depression often feel shameful and guilty for not being able to bond with their baby and feeling overwhelming sadness and recurring negative thoughts.
It’s not enough to simply tell her, “You’re a good mom.” Remind her again of how much you care for her and how strong she is for persevering through this difficult time. One of the most incredible things you can do when considering how to help someone with postpartum depression is to let them know they are doing the best they can, even if it’s hard right now.
7. Find Her Postpartum Depression Treatment
Supporting someone with postpartum depression without the help of a qualified professional isn’t something you need to do. As we stated earlier, PPD is treatable. And the sooner your partner gets professional help, the sooner she can start feeling like herself again.
Get the Best Postpartum Depression Treatment in San Diego
Your support at home is crucial. But your mental health is important too. You don’t have to support your partner or wife with postpartum depression alone. Getting help is one of the best things you can do for her and yourself.
We know how to help someone with postpartum depression. Our comprehensive team of mental health professionals here at BOLD Health helps women like your partner and their significant others navigate the challenging waters of PPD.
We offer individual therapy,group therapy, medication management, and an impressively effective IOP that can treat postpartum depression. Your wife or partner’s postpartum depression treatment is tailored to meet her specific needs. We’ll work with both of you and give you the tools and strategies you need to overcome PPD and get to enjoying parenthood sooner.