The term “baby blues” gets thrown around easily these days. From song lyrics to everyday conversation, we commonly mention it without even knowing what it stands for. However, this colloquial term describes the feelings many new mothers experience after giving birth to their children.
It’s quite normal to feel worried, sad, or worn out after nine months of pregnancy. Moreover, up to 80% of women feel like that for days or even a couple of weeks after delivery. However, what if these feelings don’t go away? What if they become even worse? Well, that’s postpartum depression, and we’re here to talk about it.
Understanding Postpartum Depression
In essence, postpartum syndrome isn’t the same as “baby blues.” It lasts longer and is much more intense. However, the symptoms are quite similar, and they can make it harder for people to understand what they’re dealing with.
Although the number of new mothers experiencing it isn’t that high — 15 out of 100 — it’s not something to take lightly. Mothers with postpartum depression experience severe mood swings, fatigue, and even a sense of dread and complete hopelessness.
Unfortunately, this syndrome can make it hard for women to take care of their babies. It can even go so far as to make them despise their child, not wanting to even look at it. However, all hope is not lost. With adequate treatment, women can overcome it.
Here are some common symptoms of this post-pregnancy issue:
- Sadness and lots of crying without a particular reason
- Exhaustion but not being able to sleep
- Too much sleep
- Increased or a complete lack of appetite
- Pain, illness, or sudden aches
- Unexplainable anger or anxiety
- Simple decisions suddenly seem too complex
- Thoughts of harming yourself or the baby
Let Their Feelings Be Validated
If your partner or someone else you know suffers from postpartum depression, there are a couple of things you can do to help. Namely, it’s essential to let them know that they’re not alone and that you understand that they feel sad or guilty. And in case there’s anger or anxiety involved, don’t ignore it. Instead, try to listen and be there for them.
The idea is to make them feel safe and know that you support them. Sure enough, it won’t be easy to understand what and how they’re feeling. You can’t if you didn’t go through the same thing, but you shouldn’t compare yourself to them. It’s still good to be there for them in an effort to help them overcome this type of depression with as little pain as possible.
Make No Comparisons
One of the main mistakes people unwillingly make when trying to help someone with postpartum depression is to compare their experiences. In case you have kids and you had “baby blues” or the actual thing, you can understand what it is. However, that doesn’t mean that you should tell them that. The reason is simple — mothers during the postpartum period feel like they’re not worthy of being one. Therefore, it’s best not to step on their toes.
Things like: “When I was in your position, I did…” or “Do this or that to feel better” simply won’t cut it. It can make things even worse. Simply listen to them, be there for them, and don’t judge or come up with simple solutions because there are none.
Assure Her That This Is Only Temporary
Luckily, unlike some mental illnesses, postpartum depression can go away. It is temporary, and they should understand that. Although it might seem like life won’t ever be the same again, that isn’t true. This is important for both her and her partner and other family members to understand. It might last weeks or even months, but it isn’t permanent.
So, it’s key to tell them that the way they feel isn’t because of them but the problem they are facing. With time and medical assistance, the feeling of desperation will pass. Therefore, encourage them to call their doctor. And since there’s no shame in experiencing any of it, going to a psychiatrist shouldn’t be a problem. Furthermore, be with them if you can when they do decide to go.
Create Specific and Achievable Plans With Her
Aside from the previous tips, we suggest that you help a mother experiencing postpartum depression and her family by planning something for them. In other words, talk about specific things you can help with. This shouldn’t end only with a quick “Let me know if you need anything,” but with actual assistance. Like we’ve said, they already feel like they’re useless, so don’t keep things open-ended like that. Make specific plans like bringing dinner one night, looking after the baby while she sleeps, and so on. Just remember to follow through with it.
Reassure Her Again and Again
This type of unfortunate experience often results in mothers feeling that they can’t bond with their babies. They might even despise the child, think about hurting it, or leave it without any care. This is why some postpartum depressed mothers might come to the idea that they’re bad at parenthood and simply not worthy of having a child. However, this isn’t true. It’s just the symptoms misleading them.
The best way to deal with it is to reassure them time and again that they’re not a bad mother and that they’ll recover from this post-pregnancy issue. Even if they don’t feel like that, you should be consistent with these comments. This can, with time, help immensely, as reassurance is something we all need, let alone mothers with postpartum depression.
Know and Support Her Decisions
The best way to help a mother with postpartum syndrome is to support her decision to seek medical attention or to visit a support group. Moreover, you should support the plans she’s made with her doctor. Treatment of postpartum depression often leads to medication. Therefore, if a certified medical professional suggests pills, you should support that. After all, they’re the only ones who understand the condition and are here to help.
Similarly, if a mother decides to stop breastfeeding her child, you as her partner or friend should be supportive. Make sure she understands that you support her decision and that you fully support it. Nevertheless, don’t forget that you shouldn’t mention your experience if you had a similar problem or someone else’s you’ve heard about. Comparisons are a bad thing in these types of situations, so don’t make them.
Be Observant With the Small Things
Just like helping out with people who are recovering from other illnesses, it’s key to mention that they’re doing well from time to time. This means that you shouldn’t talk about their improvement every other time you open up your mouth. Be subtle and keep your comments measured but intentional. If you don’t, it can backfire, and you don’t want that.
The small things include mentioning their smile or laugh. All that can help big time when it comes to postpartum depression. They’ll slowly begin to think about it themselves, paving their way down to recovery. Even if this might seem insignificant, it isn’t. We all enjoy comments like these, let alone mothers with actual mental problems.