Having a baby is a huge life transition for women and their families. However, the period after childbirth can be full of new challenges and countless emotions. On top of the responsibilities of caring for a newborn, a significant number of women experience a lack of sleep and breast pain from nursing. They may feel anything from anger to fear and sadness.
If a woman experiences severe sadness, hopelessness, fatigue, and disinterest in life events, they may be struggling with postpartum depression (PPD). This can overwhelm the spouse or their primary support, making them wonder how best to help them. In this post, you will learn five essential tips on how to help someone with postpartum depression. But before then, let’s understand what PPD is and the common symptoms and treatment.
What is Postpartum Depression?
PPD or postpartum depression is a mix of behavioral, physical, and emotional changes in mothers after childbirth. Around one out of seven childbearing women experience PPD, which can begin any time during the baby’s first year. In most women, it starts within the first four weeks after delivery. PPD does not just affect the birthing mother. It can also affect adoptive parents and surrogates.
A woman may feel empty, sad, and emotionless after giving birth. They may also experience changes in mood and a general sense of helplessness for a long time after delivery. This condition is closely linked to psychological, social, and chemical alterations that happen when a woman is giving birth. The chemical changes involve a sudden decline in the estrogen and progesterone levels after giving birth. These reproductive hormone levels rise highly during pregnancy and drop suddenly after delivery, which could lead to changes in the body.
Signs and Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
Many women feel sad, tired, and moody a few days after delivery, a condition often nicknamed baby blues. However, PPD goes way beyond that, lasting for weeks after childbirth. Its symptoms can be severe and potentially interfere with a woman’s ability to function normally. PPD symptoms can vary from person to person. This disorder can make someone feel disconnected from their baby. Other common PPD symptoms include:
- Feeling overwhelmed by the responsibilities
- Feeling sad and crying a lot
- Having no energy or motivation
- Having no interest in the baby
- Thoughts of hurting oneself or the baby
- Feeling guilty, worthless, or like a bad parent
- Feeling anxious
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Having chronic headaches, pains, or stomach issues
Depression is common, and it doesn’t mean someone is a bad parent. When women notice the above symptoms, they should seek treatment to feel better.
There are different treatment options for postpartum depression based on the symptoms and severity. They include:
- Antidepressants: The healthcare professional may recommend antidepressant or anti-anxiety medications. Any medication that is taken when breastfeeding transfers into breast milk. Luckily, most antidepressants are safe to use during breastfeeding with minimal side effects and risks to the baby. It’s best to work with a doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks of specific antidepressants.
- Psychotherapy: Sharing one’s concerns with a psychologist, psychiatrist, or mental health professional may help reduce the PPD symptoms. Therapy helps people discover better ways of managing their feelings, setting realistic objectives, solving problems, and responding to situations positively. Sometimes relationships, family therapy, and participation in support groups for education and emotional support also help.
PPD symptoms usually improve with appropriate care and treatment. It is vital to continue with treatment for as long as the doctor suggests because stopping can lead to relapse.
How to Help Someone with Postpartum Depression
Sometimes all a woman with PPD wants is love, care, understanding, and support from their spouse, family, and friends. Here are some of the effective ways to help new mothers struggling with PPD:
Listen to Their Feelings
When women struggle with PPD, they probably feel sad, guilty, alone, and like they aren’t good mothers. Many feel postpartum anger and anxiety, making them think of hurting themselves or the baby. Ignoring these feelings as a spouse is wrong.
Instead, it would help if you offered the PPD support by listening to their feelings and showing them that you are there for them. By trying to understand what they are going through without invalidating or judging their feelings, they feel more safe and supported.
Make Conversations about Them
When talking to a mother with PPD, you need to focus the conversations more on them than the baby. Be prepared to listen to what they are going through and let them know they are strong enough to handle the challenges. The aim is to make them feel heard and supported all through.
Support Their Decisions
One of the best ways to help a mother with PPD is to support their decisions regarding treatment, breastfeeding, and needs. When seeking treatment, let them choose their preferred doctor or psychologist. If their doctor recommends certain medications, support their decision. Also, if they decide to stop breastfeeding, discuss it with them and ensure they feel supported as long as the baby is safe.
Accompany Them to their Doctor’s Appointments
Sometimes the postnatal check ups only focus on the baby, and the mother’s needs and concerns may get overlooked. By offering to accompany them to the doctor’s appointments, you become their advocate to the doctor and practitioners. That way, they feel love, care, and confidence.
Celebrate Their Successes
Small victories may not impact how a mother with PPD feels. Sometimes, it is vital to find a fun way to celebrate their little achievements, like successfully putting the baby to sleep. Even when the baby gains weight or when they finally get their baby to latch, it is good to make them feel you’re proud of them. They will begin to feel worthy and develop stronger love for their baby.
Get PPD Treatment with Acera Health
When getting PPD treatment, you want to ensure it’s from a reputable provider. Acera Health operates a professional, evidence-based health program for adults struggling with mental health issues like PPD. We offer outpatient treatment with various care levels. We aim to provide long-term recovery and life transformation to all our clients.
Begin your path to sound mind, body, and soul today.