If there is one person that really needs to be with a mom, and especially when she is suffering from post-partum depression, it’s her partner. He’s the one that should be with her through the good, the bad, and yes, the downright ugly. After all, dealing with post-partum depression can easily be one of the toughest moments in a mother’s life, and she will need her partner and his support every step of the way.
Of course, there are several things that dads can do to help ease the pain, or at least make a mom’s life a bit easier while she is going through her rollercoaster of emotions. From letting her sleep in more to taking care of the baby, listening to her, and putting her needs in front of his own, there are plenty of things that dads can do to help their partners beat the blues.
Now, don’t expect any of these symptoms to go away overnight. They can last anywhere from weeks to months and even up to a year. Also, keep in mind that moms who develop post-partum depression are more likely to develop major depression later in life. With that being said, here are a few ways you can help.
20 Listening is Key
First and foremost, listen to her. Be her best friend and yes, put her needs over your own. As one mom says, “Sometimes I felt incredibly lonely. Like I had no one to talk to. I didn’t tell my husband about my problems, because I felt as though he simply wouldn’t understand. He didn’t give birth. He didn’t have to deal with the hormones. I did.” Encourage your partner to talk things out. And yes, sometimes all you really need to do is simply listen to her. The more she speaks about her troubles, the better she may feel down the road.
19 You'll have to be her rock
According to RenWeb, some of the symptoms that a mom might have when she is suffering from post-partum depression include insomnia, loss of appetite, intense irritability, and difficulty bonding with the baby. Untreated conditions may last for months or longer. That’s why it’s important for a partner to do his part – and more. If you see that your loved one is having a difficult time bonding with the baby, step in and help. She is going to need you now more than ever before. Step up to the plate, papa. You might have to do double the work until she feels up to speed again.
18 Letting Her Sleep can help
Let’s face it: no one really gets much sleep during the first few months of parenthood. It takes a lot of adjusting to and when you are someone who is suffering from depression, a lack of sleep might make your depression worse. Therefore, let mama get her snooze on. If the baby is crying in the middle of the night, do your part in getting up and giving him or her the bedtime snuggles they need. “After having a few nights of rest, I felt like a different person,” mother-to-twins Meagan said. Be more than just a dad. Be a team player.
17 She needs realistic Expectations
A lot of people don’t know this, but post-partum depression can lead to postpartum anxiety. Therefore, don’t give her unrealistic expectations. If the house is a mess and the laundry hasn’t been done in weeks, who cares. No one will notice that ketchup spot on the last polo shirt you wore to work anyway. Let her focus on herself and getting better before doing anything else. Give her the time she needs. Lori wrote (via Motherly): “Acknowledge that postpartum depression is real, share that you experienced it (if you did), and admire the strength of women who experience this and tell about it.”
16 Being oblivious won't help anyone
You’d think that we wouldn’t have to add this to our list, but you’d be surprised by how many men are really oblivious to their partner and their needs. One new mother, who wishes to remain anonymous says, “I was so surprised as to how he would come home after work and instead hang out with the baby, would sit down next to his desktop computer or check his Facebook page before doing anything else. I didn’t expect him to be that ignorant and it totally broke my heart. I was having problems bonding with the baby, and he here was ignoring her, too.”
15 The role he signed up for
One of the most difficult things about marriage is that a lot of people tend to forget the roles they signed up for. But it’s something that we are all guilty of. But keep this in mind: if you made your vows to your wife, you made a huge, lifelong commitment to her. Be the husband she deserves from you. Don’t let her down. Mari shared (via Motherly): “When I just didn't have the emotional energy to hold a wailing infant any longer and I begged family to just let me take a shower by myself I was 'being lazy. I had no help my kids were young, so why do you think you deserve it?" When I felt anger and removed myself to cool down, I was 'being neglectful.' Bio-dad is 100% vanished, and man does single motherhood suck without a support network.”
14 Diaper duties
Again, this should be pretty obvious but even though we are in the year 2018, there are still plenty of men out there that think changing diapers is beneath them. Well, I’ve got a message for you: you helped make the baby, then you help change the blowouts in their diapers. Let’s put it this way: someone once changed your diapers too, so don’t think that you’re too good for this. As mom Liz said, “I was surprised by how little hands-on he was with our baby, especially when it came to stuff like changing diapers or giving him a bath. There’s nothing more unattractive than a man who refuses to be a father to his child or participate in any of his obligated daddy duties.”
13 Neglect comes in many forms
If she’s talking to you, or if she’s sending you non-verbal signals, by all means, do not ignore her. She’s reaching out to you for a reason. She might not be communicating it the way you think it should be done, but absolutely do not brush her off. Sometimes when someone has depression, you can see the pain in their eyes or in the expression on their face. Anne-Marie wrote, “I still want you to call or write or tell me you care. I might not have words to say anything back, yet. But please keep asking because one day, I will say yes, and it will mean everything to me that you stayed.”
12 She needs to be supported
Honestly, you’d be surprised how far a simple text would go, especially if it’s someone checking up on you to see how you feel. And no, don’t confuse this with reminding her to look for that belt that’s been missing in your closet or to pay for the Sprint cell phone bell. Seriously just ask her about her feelings. See what she’s doing and compliment her on the progress that she’s making. Jenni wrote (via Motherly): “Notice the little steps I take (going to the shops with the baby, not waking up crying etc.) and point them out to me. Not in a patronizing way — just point out it’s not all doom and gloom and step by step I’ll find myself again.”
11 Share Your Own Experience
Believe it or not, more and more fathers and males, in general, are beginning to realize that they have post-partum depression too, but just don’t know how to talk about it. In fact, first-time father Jack says that after the birth of his second baby, he realized that something just wasn’t right with him. He was moody, he was agitated, and he had a hard time bonding with his newborn son. “I knew I needed help, but I just didn’t know how,” he says. If you share your own experience, it might help make her feel like she’s not doing this on her own.
10 Get Professional Help - For Her
She might not want it right away, but if there is one thing that you can do, it's researching the professional help that is available in your area. And by that, we mean check with your insurance provider to see if counseling or therapy is covered by the plan you have. Do the legwork if necessary. She might not agree to it right away, but if her depression is severe, she might need to speak to a qualified health professional. Fit Pregnancy writes, “Call area professionals who specialize in treating postpartum mood disorders to get some basic information: where they are located, how many years of experience they have, etc.”
9 Never tell Her To 'Suck It Up'
The worst thing anyone can do is tell their partner to “suck it up” or make their post-partum depression look like it’s nothing more than a bug bite that will go away on its own. Well, my friends, more often than not it won’t go away on its own. By all means, do not be dismissive of her feelings. Kim wrote (via Motherly): “The biggest thing that I seem to hear from my family is that I am selfish. That me, asking for help or understanding...is somehow, to them, me making it all about myself. So, it's easier to stay silent instead of here that. It's a double-edged sword. We all need the help, but the lack of support stops us. In fact, the lack of resources does, too.”
8 Don’t Compare Her To other Mothers
Now, regardless of whether or not she is suffering from post-partum depression, do not – and we really mean this – do not ever compare her experience to that of what your own mother might have had in the past. Not only is that unfair, but totally insensitive, too. Sofia, a mother of 3, shared, “He once told me that his mother raised 4 kids while his father was gone all the time and never complained once about her job at home. This made me feel absolutely horrible. Maybe she needed someone to talk to, but no one was there to help her. It was an incredibly horrible thing to say.”
7 take over the household duties
And by that, we mean the dishes. Put the laundry away. Mop the floors. Dust the furniture. Clean the kitchen until its spotless. But if you feel as though you can’t do all of these things on your own, then, by all means, get a Groupon Coupon and get someone to do it for you. Jessica wrote (via Motherly): “Show your support by coming and doing ‘dirty’ things like washing the dishes or the laundry. Be available. Tell me I’m not crazy or a bad mom. Tell me you’ll help me find a good therapist/doctor and offer to make the calls for me. Help me feel positive about options like medication.”
6 never Judge
The one thing about post-partum depression is that many women don’t want to talk about it or share their experiences, simply because they feel embarrassed. The worst thing you can do is judge her, especially during this very fragile moment in her life. There’s a huge stigma surrounding depression and that’s why a lot of women keep their feelings bottled up. They have no outlet to the outside world. Scary Mommy writes, “In the case of postpartum depression, moms are mourning for the life they had before their baby and worried for the life they fear they can’t provide in the future for their baby.”
5 Don’t Give Her A Pity Party
Also, keep in mind that you shouldn’t give her a pity party. She wants your support, not your sorrow or your sympathy. If she’s not ready to talk about her depression yet, try giving her a little quiet time so she can be on her own. Take the baby for a walk in his or her stroller or to the store to run some errands. Give her a little space so she can breathe on her own. Fit Pregnancy suggests, “Just having the opportunity to be quiet can be a rare treat for a new mother. Because everyone's needs are different, ask her if she wants some time to herself.”
4 Help out Without Being Asked
One of the biggest things that a lot of women struggle with is constantly reminding their partners that they have certain duties and responsibilities at home, too. It’s frustrating and that’s why they want you to help without being asked. And no, don’t take it as they are delegating any chores on you, they simply just want your help. It takes two to make a baby, raise a family and keep a house in order. Annie wrote (via Motherly): “Help without being asked! I couldn’t ask for help, but lived on the cups of coffee, the laundry and the food that was done/brought to me.”
3 Believe What She Tells You
Whatever you do, do not ever be dismissive of her feelings. She wants you to believe what she is telling you. Be there for her and if she’s asking you to help her, by all means, do what you are being told. Don’t make her feel as though she’s overreacting or worse “PMSing” (yes there are men out there that have said this before). Know the difference between a little pre-menstrual outburst and depression, you guys. And by all means, be patient with her, too. Michelle wrote, “Please don’t ignore me or push how I’m feeling aside. I’m asking for help in my own way.”
2 Be Her Best Friend
We know that we are piling a lot of responsibilities on you, but as her partner, try to be her best friend. She should talk about her feelings with you before any of her other female friends. Remember, it’s the little things that count, too. Do something special for her to help boost her spirits or kick the blues in the can. Scary Mommy writes, “Moms with postpartum depression can feel helpless and hopeless. Ask what you can do, whether it’s something small like making them laugh, buy them flowers, or even something large like babysitting or helping her set a routine or ritual for coping.”
1 Learn About PPD
One of the best things you can do is actually learn about post-partum depression and understand what she is going through. Also, be aware that treatment can be anything from counseling, antidepressants, or even hormone therapy. Margaret wrote (via Motherly): “Learn about the symptoms, possible triggers, and options for treatments. Learn about changes in behaviors to look for. I may not tell you how I’m feeling; many times it’s hard to explain and even harder to confide in someone. If you know the presentation and things to look for, you will be able to identify I’m struggling and help me help myself.”
References: RenWeb, Motherly, FitPregnancy, Scary Mommy