Explaining PostPartum Depression to Your Husband
While there is a vast majority of postpartum women that will experience a form of the baby blues, some women experience a more severe condition known as postpartum depression. Postpartum depression can affect a woman from the moment she gives birth right up to a year later.
A good support system is essential to getting better, especially having a supportive husband. Most husbands are not familiar with postpartum depression so it is important to help them become informed. This is the first step for a woman who is helping her husband understand postpartum depression.
Helping Husbands Understand What to Expect
It is important that women suffering from postpartum depression explain that it is a real condition and can happen to any postpartum woman even if she has never suffered from depression before in her life.
Postpartum depression can affect women who are in perfectly stable marriages, women who have just had their first child or women who have just given birth to their third child. There are no guidelines or rules on whom it will affect. There is no real explanation for what causes postpartum depression so by reassuring the husband they have done nothing wrong and that it occurs to many women will help them to not blame themselves.
Another thing to explain to a husband to help them understand postpartum depression is that it is not simply a “mood” that one can just get out of. It is an actual medical condition that often requires counseling or even certain medications. It should be explained that saying things such as “She should snap out of it and be happy” will not be helpful at all. Helpful, supportive words should be used instead.
Typically men will want to fix “the problem” right there and then so give him something to do. This could be scheduling in a time for him to look after the baby so you can have a break. Remember to tell him it is not something he can fix, and that you know this is frustrating for him. But the more support he gives the quicker your recovery.
Involve your husband in your recovery program - give him some material about postpartum depression to read and have him sit in on a session with your doctor.
Tell him that sometimes he just needs to listen or hold you in his arms if you break down and cry. He doesn’t have to say anything. Just simply being there as a comforter is all that is required in these moments.
If your husband still doesn’t understand what you are facing seek out the help of close friends, family members and support groups who can offer you invaluable advice.
Ways Husbands Can Help
There are a number of ways husbands can help their wives on their journey to overcome postpartum depression. One of the best ways to help is by a husband telling their wives they may not understand exactly what they are going through but that they understand they are hurting and they are there to support them.
Husbands should also reassure wives that they will make it and will eventually feel better one day. Another important thing a husband should say to their wife is that they know she is doing her best and that she is very loved. This reassurance goes a long way in helping her feel better and knowing she will make it through.
Husbands can also helping out more around the house - doing small things such as the dishes or laundry can help a great deal. In addition, just showing your spouse extra affection and love will help her to know she is not alone. Husbands should be encouraged to do romantic things such as bringing home flowers and taking her out for small “dates” even if it is a quick dinner.
Lastly husbands should understand that postpartum depression does not last forever. With the right help and support their wives will be well on their way to feeling better and their lives will return to normal.
The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy by Vicki Lovine
Picture credit - image released under GNU Free Documentation License