Post-natal depression is horrible. For the mum struggling, but also for the family around her. With one-in-five women now admitting to feeling its effects after birth, if it’s not you finding it hard, you can guarantee one of your friends will be.
I struggled with PND, but you wouldn’t have known it at the time because I put on a brave face, or just didn’t go out when I felt bad. I went from being a happy, energetic, career girl to being scared of anything – my son, coffee with close friends, even going to sleep!
This photo was taken by my husband at a friend’s wedding. And I look happy. But I wasn’t. I was deep in the PND – chronic insomnia, anxiety and in tears most of the time.
During this time my husband was my rock. And since recovering we’ve talked about this dark period of our lives and what he has learned – you might be a gran, friend, sister, aunt or uncle – these are all still relevant!
Below are 7 top tips to help a Mum struggling with PND:
- Help with practical things – washing up, cooking, washing clothes etc. PND can make everything seem overwhelming, so taking a few “to-dos” off the list help
- Don’t take it personally – sometimes it was difficult to hear that “life isn’t worth it” or “I just want to run away”. It feels like a personal attack on you – that you’re no longer good enough, you’re doing a bad job. But you are doing great. It’s the depression talking. So try to remain calm and don’t let it affect you.
- Give her some “me” time – take the baby out so she can paint her nails, suggest she goes for a run (careful with that one 😉 but exercise is great to lift the mood!), buy her favourite magazine.
- Encourage her to meet new mums for support during the day. Whilst you are out at work, she will still crave company, especially with a new-born. Encourage your partner to make new friends, join groups online but even better, a service like MummyLinks or a text group where they can facilitate meetups (safely!) could be just the thing she needs. According to health experts, feelings of loneliness leave young mothers more susceptible to mental health problems like post-natal depression and 57% reported feeling lonely in an NSPCC report in 2012. The Royal College of Psychiatrists state “no support” as one of the top four reasons for suffering.
- Do date nights – it’s important to keep your relationship going and to try and have a life away from the baby. Yes, this won’t be as often as before baby – but try to schedule something in at least once a month. If you can get out of the house that’s ideal, but if not – order your favourite take away, chat about life, and watch her favourite film.
- Do some research – PND and other mental health issues are still not well understood by most people. Do some research to find out more. This video has three women talking with brutal honesty about PND. It may well be how your partner feels, and she may not feel comfortable even telling you this. It also shows just how common it is. www.bit.ly/IDIDNTLOVEHIM
- Find someone to talk to – 50% of men whose partners are suffering from PND also suffer. So it’s important you find someone you can offload on as – for the time being – your partner may not be able to cope with this. As men, this can be tricky, but it’s really important that you keep yourself well to look after your family. Speak to a trusted friend, family member, or even your GP.
PND can happen to anyone and it’s key that everyone is aware of it and know how to help. “It couldn’t happen to me” was definitely part of my mindset. I’d like to spread the word that is can and it does.