Pregnancy and the postpartum period are important times in a woman’s life. Emotional health during this period is important not only for a woman’s life, but also for the developing fetus, as the baby grows, and after birth. However, maternal emotional health is often unrecognized and unaddressed.
What is postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression is actually more common than you might think, affecting 1 in 9 women. Postpartum depression can start at any time during a baby’s first year, but it’s more common for new moms to feel the effects in the first 3 weeks after giving birth. Unlike the “baby blues,” which usually only last a week or two, postpartum depression can occur if feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and guilt persist.
Postpartum depression is a mood disorder that develops in new mothers after giving birth or up to a year after giving birth. It can also begin before birth as prenatal depression, and if left untreated, the symptoms will last on the baby’s first birthday.
This usually happens when:
- Depression or severe mood swings
- Anger or anger
- Crying too much
- Difficulty bonding with children
- Low energy
- Babysitting feels like work
- It’s hard to remember anything
- Withdraw from your family and friends
How do I know if my anxiety or worry is normal or excessive?
Here are some signs that will help you determine if you have anxiety or a psychological problem:
- Worried about infection even after all precautions are taken and after being sedated
- Lack of sleep due to anxiety
- Excessive concern about infection control procedures in family members
- Worried too much about work
- Isolate and feel sad and angry because you can’t meet family and friend
- Feeling confused, worried, or on edge
- Inability to suppress or control anxiety
- Difficulty resting
- Being nervous, it’s hard to sit
- Easy to get angry or upset
- Fear of something terrible happening
How can women who are pregnant or with a newborn baby prevent themselves from worrying too much?
Four coping strategies can help: sharing, planning, reducing anxious thoughts, and relaxing
Communicate regularly with your midwife or primary care physician or nurse practitioner (ANM). If you feel concerned or worried, ask how you can be contacted. Find out if the hospital or clinic has a number you can call. Divide your day into four parts – rest, fun, work and exercise. Try to make a chart for yourself using these four headings equally.
Try not to isolate yourself and find ways to stay in touch with your relatives and friends through phone calls and videos. Stay away from distracting social media and TV shows, and ask your friends and family not to send negative messages. If necessary, leave the group with too many messages.
During social isolation, you may not be able to hold regular pregnancy-related events, which can be frustrating. Try to find other unique ways to feel special, such as having a small function with only your close family and sharing photos with others.
Preparation and planning
A good way to manage anxiety is to prepare for events. Although some things can be difficult to plan, you can have a plan if you need to visit the hospital. Keep the phone number of emergency services, two or three close friends and family members and let them know that you need their help.
Send a scanned copy of your antenatal card and share the phone number of the hospital or doctor with close friends or family if they need to be near the hospital. If there is a curfew or lockdown, they must show the police if they ask for proof.
After the baby is born, keep the pediatrician’s phone number. Talk to them about what to do about immunization.
Reduce anxious thoughts
Name the main concern. This prevents him from dealing with many different problems. Wondering how your husband is going to get home after going shopping while pregnant? Sometimes putting a name to worry can help show that worry is unnecessary.
Try to stay away from social media posts, blogs, and chat rooms that discuss the same topic to avoid “stirring up trouble” or “adding gasoline to an existing fire.” Ask yourself – Given the current situation, have I considered all the options?
Talk to someone you don’t have to worry about. Find something you love to do and dive into it – read, listen to music, solve puzzles, go for a walk, play with the kids around you, try a new recipe, clean out the cupboard, try some crafts, make an inspirational quote poster. Find ways to find comfort – inspirational quotes, soothing music, songs, or wisdom books. Try writing a gratitude journal and list the things you are grateful for.
Recreation and thoughts
Find ways to relax – yoga, meditation, deep breathing, and meditation. You don’t need fancy equipment and don’t try too hard for the perfect time/space.
Simple relaxation exercises:
Mindful Breathing: Close your eyes and relax in a chair or bed. Pay attention to your breathing. Watch each breath as it comes in and out. If there is a sound around you that demands your attention (a doorbell or a bird chirping), notice the sound, but return your attention to your breath. You can do this for ten breaths (or 1 minute, or 3 minutes, or 5 minutes) and slowly open your eyes.
Square breathing: Take 1-2-3-4 breaths. Hold 1-2-3-4. Breathe for 1-2-3-4. Hold 1-2-3-4. Repeat this for three to five breaths or until you feel calm.
How to help people with postpartum depression
1. Listen to their feelings
They may even experience postpartum anxiety or anger. Do not ignore these feelings. Instead, you can offer support by listening and showing that you are there to listen to him and that you are there for him. By being with him and not judging his feelings or trying to understand what he was going through, he felt safer and supported.
2. Do not compare
By comparing your situation, you can only increase guilt and shame.
3. How to help someone with postpartum depression?
When a woman experiences postpartum depression, it can feel like she’ll never feel better. Remind them that this is not true. Tell her that her feelings are just symptoms, not her. It does not last forever and can be managed with treatment. It may take time, but postpartum depression is a medical condition, so keep that in mind when you’re feeling down.
4. Make a specific plan
It’s easy to say, “Let me know how I can help,” or other obvious words, but mothers with postpartum depression feel inadequate and become dependent on others who they never spoke up. Instead, recommend a special way to help at a certain time. This may mean taking an overnight meal or watching the baby for a few hours so the mother can sleep. Make an accurate plan and execute it.
5. Calm him down
So, if you’re wondering how to help someone with postpartum depression, try listening and reassuring them. Tell her she’s a good mother, even if she doesn’t like it. This relief can be big for mothers with postpartum depression.
6. Support their decision
If a woman is experiencing postpartum depression and her doctor decides to take medication, support that decision.
The mother can also decide to stop breastfeeding. If you are a husband, discuss this with your wife and make sure she supports herself if needed. Again, don’t compare it to other moms’ experiences, especially yours.
7. Pay attention to small things
If you’re trying to help someone with postpartum depression, one small way to help that can really make a difference is to show evidence of recovery. Smile and notice when you tell him. This will help him see that the situation is improving. These little things may seem unimportant, but they are not.
What can family members of pregnant and postpartum women do to help them?
- Be alert for signs of excessive anxiety or psychological distress.
- Don’t minimize women’s concerns – tell them it’s normal to feel that way.
- Try to resolve some issues and encourage him to talk to his health care provider about the problem without focusing on it.
- Make sure he’s constantly moving and engaging in interesting conversations.
- Find something you can do together, such as playing games, making crafts, or telling stories.
- Make sure you have a copy of the report and hospital card or child card and tell them they are available to you. Discuss a plan to handle the situation in case of pain, bleeding, or labor. Make a plan to take care of the child if the lockout continues.
- Teach him simple ways to relax and do it with him
- If you are worried, try to talk to someone about it and try not to add to their worries
- Make sure the new mother gets enough sleep and helps take care of the baby. Encourage baby to sing and play with baby and reduce screen time.
Certain childbirth rituals may not be possible due to lockdown or social isolation. Try to find simple ways to celebrate at home, such as making a memory book of the baby’s first month and writing messages from friends, parents and relatives, or recording music or bugs or messages and sending them to the mother and baby. These little things will help you feel connected to your mother, even when the mother or partner is not around.
Does postpartum depression qualify as a disability?
Women who need special accommodations because of postpartum depression may qualify as disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). A person with postpartum depression can be allowed certain accommodations with the employer. Postpartum Depression Awareness Month is held in May.
The Bottom line
Whether it’s a husband, friend or family member, everyone can help in some way with postpartum depression. Even the little things count. So, find out what you can do to help your loved ones through this difficult time. From babysitting for an hour while Mom is sleeping to texting her that you love her, everything changes.
It is important to remember that depression is not a one-size-fits-all illness. Different symptoms will appear in different ways depending on the person. The point is, if someone has symptoms and not others, don’t write one.