My husband and I received a ton of information about postpartum depression during our birthing class. We were told I might feel sad after childbirth, and learned about the warning signs of something more serious than the "baby blues." We didn't learn a thing, though, about postpartum anxiety. While I showed clear signs of anxiety in my first weeks of motherhood, I had no idea what was happening, and my husband had no idea how dads can help with postpartum anxiety.
A little anxiety is to be expected as a new parent, but for new parents with postpartum anxiety (PPA), it can be all-consuming. Symptoms of PPA can including constant worrying, fear the worst will happen, and not being able to sleep or eat, according to Postpartum Support International. As a new mom, I worried about everything. Was she breathing at night? Was she getting enough to eat? Would I forget her in the back seat of the car? My husband, at the time, dismissed my concerns as silly or ridiculous; completely unaware that he could help me manage my anxiety instead of simply telling me not to worry.
According to a 2013 study published in Pediatrics, PPA may be more common than postpartum depression, affecting 16 percent of the 1,123 moms who participated in the study. In other words, it's worthwhile for all moms-to-be and their partners to learn about PPA before they bring their baby home from the hospital.
To learn more about how partners can be aware of the signs of PPA and help their partners weather the storm, Romper spoke with Kristen Treat, LMHP, LPC, a counselor specializing in postpartum mood disorders at Butterfly Kisses Family Support Services and local coordinator of Postpartum Support International. Her advice was for partners to not dismiss a new parent's anxiety, and instead provide support to empower them to get the help they need.
For more on these ideas and other ways new dads and partners of any gender can help with postpartum anxiety, read on: