Here are some ideas from new moms about how to support them:
1. Babysit so I can have a day or night off.
2. Help me with the baby. Feed/play/sing/read to the baby.
3. Go to the store with me, or for me.
4. Don't criticize me; compliment me (on things like: being a good mother, looking good).
5. Take the initiative without me having to ask for help - prepare dinner, help with the other children, do laundry, etc.
6. Keep others away while I rest or help me at night.
7. Take my wants and needs seriously.
8. Don't be jealous of the baby.
9. Help me find things my baby likes.
10. Give me hugs and affection.
11. Help me take care of myself - not just the baby. Help me eat healthy foods and work out with me.
12. Be kind and supportive of me when I breastfeed.
13. Don't ask me about my weight.
14. Be emotionally supportive - understand that I may be depressed sometimes.
15. Help me reduce my stress by allowing me some time to do things I enjoy (movies, dinner, nap, etc.)
When a new mom has postpartum depression (PPD), it can be a hard time for the entire family. Older children suffer when they lose the attention and support of their mother. Other family members may be called upon to fill the gap. Because PPD affects the entire family, it is important that family members know the signs and help their loved one seek help.
If you know a woman who has the signs of PPD, here is how you can help:
As a spouse or partner:
- Ask her to seek help. This is the quickest path to getting better.
- Offer support and hope. Your positive actions and words can ease some of her suffering.
- Listen. Her feelings are real.
- Allow her to focus on her own needs. Physical and social activities can help her feel stronger, more hopeful and better about herself.
- Take time for yourself. Spouses and partners should go on with their work, hobbies and friendships.
As a friend or family member:
- Ask the new mom how you can help, such as house cleaning and baby-sitting.
- Let her know you are there for her, even if she does not like talking.
- Be aware that the dad may also be stressed from the changes that come with being a new father or by a partner who has PPD.
The more you know about PPD, the better you will be able to care for yourself and the ones you love.