A new mom struggling with postpartum depression might not even recognize that she's struggling. Or she might know, but her friends and family might not have a clue. A new mom crying over postpartum childbirth aches and pains, complaining about breast tenderness, or being upset that her morning coffee went cold while she was changing a diaper are all very normal things to be sad about as a sleep deprived mom. However, if she can't pull herself out of her sadness it may be time to find ways to help a new mom through postpartum depression.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), an estimated one in seven moms suffer from postpartum depression, or PPD. Some women report feeling depressed just hours and days after delivery and yet for others, the consistent dread and sadness takes a few months to bubble up and become noticeable. Many people use the terms PPD and baby blues interchangeably, but there is a real difference. The APA website noted that PPD is different than baby blues, because it doesn't go away.
Many moms keep their PPD a secret because they're embarrassed, ashamed, and feeling guilty. All of which make it hard for loved ones and friends to notice. If you think a new mom is struggling with PPD here are nine ways to help her.
1Ask Her How She's Doing
Just asking how are you doing can go a long way to letting your friend or partner know that you are there for her, and that you care. The website Reach Out noted that you should keep it simple when talking to someone about PPD. Just texting your friend and checking in will let her know that you are there if she needs you.
2Listen To Her
Sometimes a mother struggling with PPD might just want to talk it out. The Kids Health website suggested that friends and family simply listen to the new mom when she wants to talk. That last part is super important because the mom may not want to talk about it, or she might want to talk, but not at the time you're proposing. But just listening without telling her what she should or should not be feeling or doing will help her.
This is not the time to disappear and be silent. Say something to your friend or partner that is supportive and loving like: I'm here for you, I support you, It's not your fault. The Beyond Blue website suggested that friends and family not compare experiences or even offer advice. You might unintentionally minimize or maximize the situation. You just have to be there. Acknowledge that the mom is struggling and reassure her that you are unequivocally there for her.
4Offer To Help Take A Load Off With Something Specific
Caring for a newborn can be really overwhelming. There are mountains of laundry, a sink full of dirty dishes and possibly other kids in the home that need to be cared for. It's important to not just ask what can I help with? Because there are a bazillion things a new mother needs help with. And also because the default polite response will most likely be oh nothing, thank you.
5Give Her Space, If That's What She Wants
There's no doubt about it, parents of newborns need help. And especially a mother struggling with PPD. But if you offer your help and your friend asks for space, respect it suggested the Beyond Blue website. She might feel overwhelmed by all of the visitors or might be too exhausted to even respond to your phone calls or texts. Take your cues from the new mama. This doesn't mean you stop supporting her.
6Go To A Doctor's Appointment With Her
Recognize that PPD is real, and it is most effectively managed and treated by a professional. If a new mom confides in you about her postpartum struggles, the Beyond Blue website suggested that friends and family encourage her to seek professional help. Go a step further and offer to go to the doctor's appointments with her. That might mean you drive her to her appointments. Or you give her an extra hand with her baby while at the appointment. Either way, you're there.
7Find Support Groups
Joining a support group will help you learn more about the emotional and mental struggles of a PPD sufferer. It may also shed light on ways you can help. There are several online support groups you can join, as well as local groups. You might even offer to go with the new mom to a meeting. Caring for her baby while she goes to a meeting is good too if she's cool with it.
Being there for the new mom one month, three months and even a year out is crucial. Even if she's getting treatment that doesn't mean she won't appreciate your support. It can be as simple as a text every once in a while to check in.
9Believe In Her
Reassure your friend or partner that it will get better. The Kids Health website advised loved ones to believe in the mom struggling with PPD and remind her of her strengths.
Any mom struggling with mental illness is not a bad mom. All moms are simply doing the best they can. Recognizing signs that your friend or loved one might be struggling with PPD or any other mental condition will go along way in getting her the help she and her baby need.