How to Help a New Mother with Postpartum Depression

Posted by Sahir Momin on

According to NCBI, 22% of women in India suffer from postpartum depression. Postpartum Depression is one of the three Postpartum psychiatric disorders. The other two are Postpartum blues and postpartum psychosis. Postpartum blues are likely to resolve in a few days and at the most a week. Women suffering from postpartum blue require but a few reassurances. Postpartum psychosis is a much more severe disorder and requires a hospital stay.

Women who suffer from Postpartum depression need medical attention. This depression could be a continuation of antenatal depression, which affects women during pregnancy. The study also reported risk factors for Postpartum Depression in India. It included domestic violence, financial difficulties, marital conflict, illness in the mother, no support from the husband, and the birth of a female child.

These risk factors help us understand things that cause depression in new mothers. So, the responsibility falls on the shoulders of family members, relatives, and close friends. They are the ones who can take measures to lessen the risk of Postpartum depression. Your assistance will help the new mom recover faster. Let’s discuss a few things that you can do to make the new mother feel cherished. It includes a lot of effort on your side, from getting her required aids to make motherhood less challenging to being a strong presence in her life.


Celebrate her individuality, not just her motherhood

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Motherhood, often touted as Sainthood, puts the unexpected burden on the shoulders that are already straining, legs that are already buckling under the pressure of running the entire household and keeping up with work.

A mother is also a woman. She is a woman struggling to balance the role of being a woman and a mother. Often when you visit a new mother, you are likely to ask after the baby, completely missing the mother's distress. Make it a point to ask after her. Find out how she is dealing with motherhood. Let her know that she is allowed to feel more than one emotion at a time. As much as she loves her baby, she is buckling under the pressure. Show her that there is no shame in admitting that.

Give her a chance to be heard, and take a little weight off her shoulder. This way, instead of treating her only as a mother, you celebrate her as an individual. You do this by acknowledging her feelings and position in life.


Lend a helping hand with the chores

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New parents are very overworked and tired. When you add postpartum depression to the mix, we have a mother who's also dealing with a feeling of hopelessness that keeps dragging her down, making it harder to do the daily chores.

No matter who you are to the new mother, the husband, the wife, a sibling, a relative, or a friend, it's your responsibility to take care of her, to take some chores off her list. 

For example, you can cook a meal. Help out with the dishes. You can do this while she takes care of the bay and takes a much-needed nap. Of course, there are other chores you can also tackle while she's asleep, go grocery shopping, maybe clean the house, or babysit her older kids.

Once she is awake, she will have enough energy to combat the depression and listen to you without the constant fatigue and brain fog. Your assistance will help her keep from being overwhelmed. Instead of asking her what you can do to help, find what needs to be done and get it done. She'll only thank you for it.


Comfort and reassure her

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Depressed people, when left alone to their own thoughts, can drown themselves in their perceived faults, guilt, insecurities, and misery. They need a lot of comfort and assurance to keep them attuned to reality. A new mother who is experiencing her first bout with depression will be confused and feel as if her entire world is falling apart. She'll also feel the guilt of feeling this way even though she loves her baby. These are the times when she is going to need reassurance and comfort from the people closest to her.

Remind her that this depression is a temporary part of her life, an obstacle like many others that she has triumphed over. Tell her that she is not a bad mother, but she is dealing with a disorder that at least 100-150 out of 1000 new mothers deal with.

Also, remind her that her baby is well fed, cared for, and safe in their home. It is the most a mother can do for her child. Tell her that taking care of herself will also help her child. It includes being nice and kind to herself.

Even if you aren't a touchy-feely person, go out of your way to hug her. Share your warmth with her, and show her that you care. Several studies have shown that hugs are a healing salve to emotional wounds and the psyche.


Listen to her and show that you are there for her

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Lend her a listening ear and listen there. There are high chances that she has been cooped in the house with the babies and chores and needs to express herself, but there is no one to talk to. Do not ignore her when she is putting herself out there and telling you things she has likely never shared before, afraid that it would put her in a bad light. Since being cooped up in the house makes it harder to keep things in, if she speaks to someone, it will make it easier for her to recover.

She’ll be thankful for the time you took to listen to her without being judgemental. It shows her how much you care about her and that you are there for her.

Plan happy escapades for the future

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One excellent way to watch a smile light her face is to remind her of the future escapades, travel plans or fun activities she was looking forward to during her pregnancy. The anticipation of the visit to her favourite places with her child and family will help her fight the depression. It will show her that parenting doesn't just mean sleepless nights. It also includes rewards that she will reap along with her beautiful baby. It will give her something to look forward to.


Join her for the doctor's appointment

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When a new mother and baby head over to the doctor's, the focus is on the baby's needs and health. Due to this, the mother's health is often overlooked. It is why the mother needs an advocate. She will also be focused on the baby's health. There has to be someone who would look out for her. Offer to go with her to the appointment in case her husband can't make it. She'll be more comfortable taking someone she knows well. It will allow her to relax in your company and not worry so much about the appointment or the baby. 


Notice the Little things and help her recover

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She'll not always be stuck in the hopeless mire. Far sooner than you think, she’ll start smiling more, and it will be easy for you to notice the difference. When you see these differences, you can tell her about them. She might not be aware of it. Let her know that she is recovering and watch her smile again. It will give her hope that the difficult times have passed, and she is getting her life back one step at a time.

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