Hey, there. If you’ve found this blog it’s because you suspect that you or someone you love has postpartum depression (PPD). And for that, I’m sorry. Either way, it’s a difficult place to be in and I just want to give you a big hug. As your NoCo postpartum doula, I want you to know that this can be normal, and your friend, partner, or you will get through it, it just takes a little bit of help.
That’s what this blog is all about. If you know someone that you think is struggling with PPD, first of all – thank you for being here. You’re doing the right thing. This blog will give you practical tips on how to best support them. And if it’s you that’s struggling, you’ve taken the best first step by looking for information.
If you’re struggling, please reach out to me, your doctor, or someone you trust. It is scary to be in this place alone and we all just want you to be safe and healthy.
So what is postpartum depression? It’s generally described as depression after birth. It can be related to the wild hormonal changes a birthing person goes through, the lack of sleep a person gets with a newborn, the major life shift a newborn brings about, or quite frankly – all of the above. It’s more serious, pronounced, and long-lasting than the baby blues and it’s different from postpartum anxiety that I’ve covered here.
If you’re trying to determine if your loved one (or yourself) has baby blues or PPD, this is a good resource. As a NoCo postpartum doula, I see PPD more often than I’d like. In fact, at minimum, as much as 80% of new parents experience the baby blues. Studies have shown that 10-20% of new parents suffer from PPD.
If you determine that your loved one may be suffering from PPD, here are some practical ways you can help:
- Know the symptoms and educate yourself on what this means for your loved one. This is a good resource that breaks down the various levels of PPD and what to look for.
- Believe them! This is quite possibly the most important one of them all. If a friend or loved one confides in you about their PPD, don’t dismiss it. People lie about being well, they almost never lie about being unwell. Believe them.
- Help them rest and take care of themselves. Take the baby, let them sleep, help them eat, and so forth. PPD is always worsened by lack of sleep and self-care. Make it possible for them to get what they need.
- Don’t minimize their experience or emotions. Sure, things could be worse and some people have PPD worse, but this is their reality and it’s a cry for help. Don’t negate that.
- Check-in on them frequently. New parents are some of the most isolated people out there and COVID has only made that significantly worse. Even if you can’t be with them physically, make sure you are there for them and check in on them.
- Don’t force something on them. Oftentimes, when we’re trying to help we want new parents to socialize or get out of the house, but that can make people’s PPD worse. Listen to them and understand their needs.
- Be a good confidant. If your loved one confides in you about their PPD, don’t blast that to the world unless they give you permission. People are often ashamed of this condition and they don’t need anyone to make it worse.
- Cook and clean for them. Everyday tasks often make PPD even worse because it all feels so overwhelming. Take some of that off their plate by doing chores like cooking and cleaning.
- Share the baby’s duties if you’re her partner. If you’re the other parent in the equation, make sure you’re sharing the baby duties – especially at nighttime – so she can get the rest her body and mind need.
- Be a good listener. If they’re telling you about their PPD or other postpartum experiences, please listen and help them navigate all of it. They need you now more than ever.
- Look for support groups! Often new parents find solace in joining a new parent support group. This can be a great way to make friends at a similar place in life and get support to make it through this challenging time.
- Look for the signs. Your partner or friend might not admit (or realize) that they have PPD. Look for the signs and spring into action if you think they’re struggling.
- Don’t be judgemental. The birthing person has just gone through a major bodily and life change. It takes time to adjust and figure out this new role. Be patient and don’t judge their journey.
- Consider a postpartum doula. As your NoCo postpartum doula, one of my main roles is to help new parents adjust and avoid the funk that new babies can bring. I can also help new parents deal with PPD in a productive, safe way.
- Get help. If you suspect that your loved one, partner, spouse, or friend is spiraling, don’t wait. Make sure they get the help they need from their doctor.
As your NoCo postpartum doula, I’m here to help you through the good, bad, and the PPD. If you feel like your family could use more support, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Sending you all my love,