Supporting Your Partner: 7 Essential Tips For Spouses Of Mothers With Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a medical condition that can affect new mothers. If your partner is battling PPD, your role as a supportive spouse is crucial to help her navigate this difficult journey. Read on for tips to provide the right support and understanding during this challenging time.
1. Educate Yourself About Postpartum Depression
The first step in supporting your partner through postpartum depression is to educate yourself about the condition. PPD is not a sign of weakness or failure; it’s a medical condition that can affect any new mother, regardless of her circumstances.
PPD has been recorded in almost 10% to 20% of moms worldwide. Other studies show that PPD affects 21–50% of women in South Africa.
Understanding the symptoms, causes, and treatments of PPD will help you empathise with your partner’s experience and provide better support.
PPD can manifest in various ways, including:
- Mood swings.
- Intense sadness.
- Appetite changes.
- Stomach aches.
- Suicidal thoughts.
- Changes in sleep patterns.
Recognising these signs can improve how your partner receives the professional help she needs.
2. Encourage Open Communication
One of the biggest ways of supporting your partner through PPD is fostering open and non-judgmental communication. Let her know that you are there to listen without criticism or judgment. Active listening is key. Give her your full attention and validate her emotions. Avoid offering immediate solutions or minimising her feelings.
3. Share Parenting Responsibilities
Balancing parenting duties can be overwhelming for any new mother, especially one dealing with PPD. As a supportive spouse, step up and share the parenting responsibilities. This could mean changing nappies, feeding the baby, or taking care of household chores. By lightening her load, you allow her the space to focus on her recovery without feeling overwhelmed. Remember that postpartum depression can make simple tasks seem challenging. Your assistance also strengthens your bond as co-parents.
4. Encourage Self-Care
Mothers with PPD often neglect their self-care while caring for their newborns. Encourage your partner to prioritise self-care by assisting with some responsibilities. For instance, offer to watch your baby while mom takes a nap or enjoys a quiet moment. Ask a trusted friend or family member to provide additional support when needed.
5. Seek Professional Help Together
PPD is a medical condition that requires professional intervention. Encourage your partner to seek help from a healthcare provider or therapist who specialises in maternal mental health. Accompany her to appointments if she’s comfortable and be actively involved in her treatment plan.
Remember that PPD affects the mother and family, so attending therapy or counselling together can be beneficial. It provides a safe space to discuss your concerns and learn effective coping strategies as a couple.
6. Be Patient and Understanding
Dealing with PPD can be a lengthy process, and there may be times when your partner’s symptoms worsen, or she experiences setbacks. It’s crucial to be patient and understanding during these moments.
Avoid making her feel guilty or pressuring her to “snap out of it”. PPD is not something she can control or simply overcome with willpower. Your unwavering support and understanding can make a significant difference in her recovery journey.
7. Build a Support Network
Supporting a partner with PPD can be emotionally challenging for you as well. Don’t hesitate to build your support network by reaching out to friends, family members, or support groups for spouses of individuals with PPD. Sharing your experiences and getting advice from people who have had similar challenges can offer you useful insight and emotional support.
Supporting your partner through PPD is a journey that requires patience, understanding, and unwavering love. By educating yourself about PPD, fostering open communication, sharing parenting responsibilities, encouraging self-care, seeking professional help, practising patience, and building a support network, you help your partner recover and thrive. Remember that your support is a crucial part of her healing process, and together, you can overcome the challenges posed by postpartum depression and emerge as a stronger, more resilient family.
Contact Medical Society for helpful advice on how our service can assist you and your family, and more useful tips on how to support your partner through postpartum depression.