You have likely heard of postpartum depression, but did you know that pregnant moms can suffer from a similar condition known as prenatal depression? It's a time in their lives when they should feel happy preparing for the arrival of a little bundle of joy, but instead moms with prenatal depression feel deep sadness and sometimes even hopelessness. Because they can use as much support as possible during this tough time, there are things you can do to help someone with prenatal depression.
According to the Office on Women’s Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, symptoms of prenatal depression include feeling restless, moody, sad, hopeless, or overwhelmed; excessive crying; low energy or motivation; eating or sleeping too little or too much; trouble focusing or making decisions; feeling worthless and guilty; losing interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy; withdrawing from friends and family; aches, pains, or stomach problems that don't go away. Additionally, the American Pregnancy Association (APA) noted that 14 to 23 percent of women will struggle with some symptoms of depression during pregnancy.
Moms who struggle with depression should seek help from a healthcare professional and support from their friends and family. Here are some ways you can help someone with prenatal depression.
1. Accompany Her To Prenatal Appointments
Sometimes pregnant moms fall into a funk worrying that they will end up doing it all alone. If she's your partner, going to her prenatal appointments will show her that you are all in. If her partner can't and you're her friend, offer to accompany to her appointments so that she doesn't feel alone in this vulnerable time.
2. Plan A Baby Shower
A baby can be a financial burden to new parents, especially if the family income has been reduced during the first few months. Pregnant moms can fall into a depression worrying how they will be able to afford all the things a baby will need. To help ease her mind, offer to plan a baby shower to help lighten her load.
3. Take Her Out On A Date
Relationship problems can be a trigger for prenatal depression according to the APA. If your partner is struggling with depression, make sure to take some time out just for the two of you so that she can regain confidence in your relationship. If it is a friend who is feeling down in the dumps, offer to take her on a girl's night out to dinner, a movie, or even just for coffee and conversation.
4. Treat Her To A Spa Day
According to the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) prenatal depression can also be caused by how you view yourself, including the negative perceptions you feel about your physical changes such as weight gain. Treating your friend to a mani-pedi or a facial can help her feel better about herself and stave off some of her sad feelings.
5. Help Her Set Up The Nursery
When I was pregnant, one of the my biggest concerns was not having my nursery ready for my new baby. My husband worked long hours and it was hard for me to climb a ladder to paint or put up curtains. I became so concerned about the nursery not being ready that it became an obsession and would cause me to break down crying almost every night in my third trimester. Help your friend cross something off of her "to do list" by helping her set up the nursery.
6. Bring Her A Meal
When you are down in the dumps, having to prepare dinner every night can seem like a huge weight on your shoulders. Bring her a homemade meal, or some take-out on your home from work complete with paper plates, napkins and utensils that can be tossed in the trash for easy clean up.
7. Lend An Ear
Talking about your problems and worries can give you a new perspective on your situation. Be available so that your friend can vent about all of her feelings, worries, and stresses. Don't judge or offer your personal opinion. Some times all it takes is to let it out.
8. Recommend A Professional
Not all moms-to-be will be receptive to the idea of seeking professional help. However, if you think your friend may be a harm to herself or others, gently recommend a healthcare professional who can help her work through her depression. You should also confide in her spouse or one of her relatives if you have concern for her well being.