It’s no secret or surprise that giving birth takes a toll on a person’s body. Creating life and then pushing that life into the world is obviously pretty physically demanding. However, we don’t often talk about the emotional and mental health effects giving birth can have on a new mother. Like overall conversations on mental health, conversations about postpartum depression and other mental health conditions associated with giving birth are likely not happening as often as they ought to be. To understand how to help someone with postpartum depression, we first need to be having healthy conversations about new mothers’ mental health as a whole.
An estimated one in nine women experience postpartum depression, according to the American Psychological Association. 80 percent of mother experience some form of the “baby blues,” which are characterized by feelings of worry, unhappiness, or fatigue experienced in the week or two after having a baby. In part because of stigmas surrounding mental health, many women don’t talk openly about these experiences. Model, author, and TV host Chrissy Teigen recently made news for her essay on her experience with postpartum depression. As she wrote in her essay for Glamour, “Before this, I had never, ever — in my whole entire life — had one person say to me: “I have postpartum depression.” Women like Teigen who are speaking up about their own experiences are helping make mental health a natural part of the post-pregnancy conversation, rather than a taboo one.
In an effort to open up and continue the conversation, one person took to Reddit to ask people whose partners had experience postpartum depression, “What did you do to help ensure your wife made it through that rough patch?” Here are seven things they did to show support for their loved one.
1Help Around The House
“Do hella chores,” as one Redditor wrote. Another suggested, “Do the dishes, vacuum, put laundry away, change diapers, take some night feedings if she decides bottlefeed, bring her the baby for night feedings if she decides to breastfeed. Don't ask her what you can do, just do something.” Cleaning up without having to be asked not only eases her physical burden of doing household chores, it can also relieve any worries about not having a tidy house.
2Remind Her That Her Feelings Are Valid
One person shared how they helped their wife through her postpartum depression saying, “I tried to reinforce the idea that her body is going through huge hormonal changes postpartum, and her feelings are a valid byproduct of that, despite them being horrible. Also that it will end.”
3Encourage Her To Make Time For Self-care
“That might mean seeing a therapist and it might mean a long bath alone occasionally,” one Reddit user wrote. Another suggested you could tie getting chores done into that encouragement: “Scrub the bathtub and buy her a nice soap thing so she can have a relaxing bath while the baby is down.”
4Talk And, More Importantly, Listen
“Listen to her but don't press if she doesn't want to talk,” one person wrote, “And be patient.” Opening up the conversation is often the first step to coping with any mental health condition. Recognizing the signs of postpartum depression can help ease you into those conversations and acknowledge when those side effects are getting serious.
5Encourage Her To Get Help
Multiple people wrote about how seeking help from a doctor, either through medication or therapy, was crucial to coping with postpartum depression. “Medication is, by far, one of the best things I could have sought,” one person who experienced postpartum depression wrote. “My body was going through chemical and hormonal turmoil, so if you think your wife needs it, offer the option.”
6Suggest That You Both Talk To Someone
“Find a therapy for both of you if needed,” one Redditor suggested. “It's super easy to build up resentment or hurt feelings, and it will take help to work that out.”
7Just Be There
Even if you have moments when you feel like there isn’t much you can do, “a hug and some kind words and an hour nap alone can do wonders” as one person put it. “Be there for her,” another person suggested, “Take care of her and yourself. Tell her you love her, tell her she's amazing, tell her she's wonderful. Remind her why you're with her and why you started a family together.”