Postpartum depression affects new mothers in a lot of ways. Here are some of the ways on how to help a friend with postpartum depression.
Having a baby is not an easy task and would change many aspects of your life. As much as it is rewarding, childbirth has certain complications for the mother. One such complication is postpartum depression. Along with the feelings of exhaustion, a mother might experience sadness and loneliness. If you are wondering how to help a friend with postpartum depression, this article will give you a few easy tips and tricks for the same.
When I had my first daughter, I was experiencing a sudden rush of sadness while also feeling extremely irritable almost always. I did not understand what was happening to me and why I was experiencing these emotions. I was not able to even take care of my baby like I wanted to. Thankfully my family and friends understood what I was going through and they helped me through it. My gynecologist also helped me understand why I was feeling these feelings. That is how I got to know about postpartum depression. To help new mothers to navigate this, you as a friend/ family should know how to help a friend with postpartum depression.
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Understanding postpartum depression
Postpartum depression is a type of depression that affects a mother who has just given birth. A mom will experience physical, emotional, and hormonal changes after giving birth. These changes might lead to the symptoms of postpartum depression. It is estimated that at least 15% of people are affected by postpartum depression. The first thing to understand when you are looking for answers to the question of how to help a friend with postpartum depression is that it is not a character flaw or weakness. It is only a complication of giving birth and could be managed.
There are a few ways to spot postpartum depression in a new mom. I’m listing some of the most common types and symptoms of postpartum depression below.
Types and symptoms of postpartum depression
There are three different types of postpartum depression and it is necessary to know what type of postpartum depression a new mom has so that you can know how to help a friend with postpartum depression. Let’s briefly look at them below.
1) Postpartum blues
Postpartum blues also known as baby blues affect nearly 50 to 75% of mothers after delivery. It usually begins in the first week of the delivery. The symptoms include anxiety, sadness, and crying for no apparent reason. Usually, the postpartum blues subside within two weeks without any treatment. It is usually advisable for friends and family to notice if these symptoms subside within two weeks. If they don’t subside, it could be identified as the next category.
2) Postpartum depression
Postpartum depression is the next level of postpartum blues and it is a lot more severe. It affects at least 1 in 7 mothers and it might last up to a year. The symptoms include irritability, anxiety, fatigue, alternating highs and lows, and frequent crying. The mothers might also experience feelings of guilt for not being able to care for their baby and themselves. Postpartum depression is treatable by psychotherapy and antidepressants. If you are wondering how to help a friend with postpartum depression help them by finding a good therapist.
3) Postpartum psychosis
Postpartum psychosis is an extreme form of postpartum psychosis. Even though it is extreme, it affects only 1 in 1000 mothers. The symptoms start after delivery and might last up to a few months. These symptoms are confusion, insomnia, paranoia, delusions, feelings of shame and hopelessness, hallucinations, mania, and severe agitation. This condition requires immediate medical attention since there is an increased risk of harm to both the baby and the mom. It could be treated through psychotherapy, medication, or sometimes hospitalization.
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How to help a friend with postpartum depression?
It is quite hard for a new mother who goes through postpartum depression to take care of herself and the baby. She might be experiencing a lot of things and if you are wondering how to help your friend with postpartum depression, here are a few ways. These are not substitutes for proper medical care but they would certainly help a new mom to feel better. I have listed five of the tested tips on how to help a friend with postpartum depression.
1) Watch the baby
The first on the list of how to help a friend with postpartum depression is to offer to watch the baby. Newborn babies usually aren’t hard to look after. Offer to look after the baby so that your friend/ wife can get some sleep and rest her body and mind. Most mothers with postpartum depression find it hard to look after the baby, so offering to watch the baby would let them relax for a bit.
If the baby had started formula drinks or bottled milk, you can even feed the baby yourself. The mother can use a breast pump and store the milk and she can feed the baby whenever they are hungry. This was personally a great help for me as it allowed me to rest peacefully without having to worry about feeding my little one.
2) Food prep
The second in the list of how to help a friend with postpartum depression is offering to prepare food for the mother and her family. Oftentimes, in the present age, new moms have to look after their husbands and other kids as well. This would only worsen their postpartum depression. Sometimes, the new moms might end up not having proper nutritious food.
Thus, it becomes very essential to make sure the new mom eats properly and does not take any more stress by thinking about cooking. She can make a meal prep for a week and she could just heat it up whenever she wants. Make sure to ask about her comfort food and cook those for her. A proper healthy meal for the mother would also help the baby.
3) Household chores
Another important solution on how to help a friend with postpartum depression is taking up the household chores. As I mentioned above, new moms are burdened with taking care of the baby, the family, and also themselves. This could be very tiring for them. So, ease their burden by doing some chores around the house.
Prioritize the chores that need to be done in the house. Help your friend/ spouse with clearing the clutter around the house. You could also do the laundry as newborn babies need a lot of cleaning clothes. Apart from these, you could also help the new mom with chores that she might find hard to do. For instance, lifting something heavy, any work that requires sitting and standing for a while, and such. Ask your friend about the things she might want help with and help accordingly.
4) Doctor’s appointments
The next on the list of how to help a friend with postpartum depression is to accompany the new mother to the doctor’s appointments. The first few months after the delivery will warrant a lot of visits to the hospital. Most of it would be for the babies but it would take a lot of energy for the mother to travel and wait in the hospital.
Apart from that, if your friend/ spouse is going for therapy regarding postpartum depression, they might need some moral support. You can take her to the appointments and pick her back. This would help normalize the fact that it is okay to seek professional help for postpartum depression. You could also plan a day out during the doctor’s visits so that it would boost the new mom’s happiness.
5) Active listening
Last but not least on the list of how to help a friend with postpartum depression is to listen to her. Most often, new moms just want someone to listen to them. Instead of jumping into giving suggestions and advice, you can listen to what she wants help with and do accordingly. You can let her vent about how hard it is to take care of a newborn baby and validate her feelings.
Motherhood is seen as something that is easily doable for women, but in reality, it is quite a difficult and confusing time. So, if your friend who is going through postpartum depression wants someone to talk to, be there for her. Reassure her that whatever she is experiencing is something that is hard and that she is okay to feel that way.
Few quick tips and tricks
Along with the above-mentioned list of how to support a friend with postpartum depression, here are a few additional tips that would help a new mom as well as yourself.
- Remind your friend that her finding it difficult to take care of the baby and herself is not her fault. Constantly remind her that it is okay and that it is happening because of her depression.
- Don’t jump to advise a new mom. As much as it is tempting to tell her how to do things, it would only affect her self-image. So, try to let her ask for what she wants.
- When a new mom asks for help, try to do it without postponing it. Also, you could do simple tasks like folding the baby’s clothes or cleaning the clutter in the bed and such without your friend having to ask.
- Celebrate the little success or progress she makes. It could be anything ranging from taking a shower or doing something for the baby. This would encourage her and also make her happy.
- If your friend/ wife is on medications for postpartum depression, remind her to take her medicines regularly.
- Last but not least, look out for your own support. Taking care of someone is not an easy task and you should also get proper rest.
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I hope that the article has helped you with gaining an answer to the question ‘how to help a friend with postpartum depression?’ It really does take a village to raise a child, so as a friend or spouse try to follow the above-mentioned tips to help a new mom who is experiencing postpartum depression. By the end of the day, little things or even the thought of wanting to help a mom who is going through postpartum depression will make a huge difference.
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