Someone you know may be suffering from Postnatal Depression –
Many people do not know about postnatal depression and its symptoms. Some women may not realise they are suffering from postnatal depression as they may just think there are could be other reasons for the way they are feeling: (lack of sleep, hormonal changes, change of routine, etc). Denial is very common when experiencing post-natal depression as a woman does not want to admit these feelings, and understandably so.
Society puts a lot of pressure on women to be the perfect mother and this is most unrealistic. The responsibility and challenges of being a parent are very often not talked about and unfortunately there is a still a huge stigma and a national silence attached to pregnancy and maternal mental health illnesses like postnatal depression in Ireland.
- When a woman experiences post-natal depression she can struggle with her mental and physical health. She can feel very alone, isolated and a failure. She may not be able to cope in a way she could before she delivered her baby. She may feel embarrassed to talk about how she truly feels.
- Having post-natal depression is not an easy illness to navigate, women feel embarrassed or afraid to admit they are struggling. Depression itself can alter a woman’s communication skills, thinking & decision-making process.
- It can be hard for a woman to verbalise how she is feeling, and she may be afraid of people’s reactions if she says how she is feeling. Some women will worry if they admit how they are really feeling in today’s day and age will be afraid that their baby will be taken away from them. All of these feelings are quite normal.
How can you help?
Try and learn as much as you can about postnatal depression so that you can identify with the impact of this illness as it affects a woman’s emotions, decisions, behaviour and physical health.
Should a woman talk to a loved one or friend, it is critical you listen and try to understand their feelings. It is important for her that you understand and acknowledge that she is not a bad mother or is a failure. Please don’t judge her, as your judgement if negative can have a detrimental effect on her future mental health.
Below are ways you can help:
Being supportive and letting a woman talk openly:
Knowing a woman can talk to you about her feelings without being judged or criticised will help her feel much better in herself. It could also encourage her to seek professional help. Just listen to and try to understand what her daily life is like right now. Encourage her to show her emotions and not bottle them up but avoid telling her how she should feel. Be patient with her, she is not herself or thinking clearly. Be positive and tell her all the good things she is currently doing.
Encourage her to seek help and give her options of whom to talk to so that she knows she is not alone and there is professional support for her. Explain to her, she has an illness and once she seeks supports she can recover and get back to positive living.
A woman should talk to her GP, Public Health Nurse & Nurture Health about her concerns, and treatment options however please bear in mind a woman may be reluctant to seek professional advice. Some women are very scared to acknowledge they are struggling with their mental health and may refuse that this is a real problem for them. If you are more than concerned or feel a woman may be in danger or her children, please seek professional supports for her immediately.
• Insist that she rest as much as possible, and volunteer to watch the baby while she naps. Ensure she is eating a healthy diet, offer to cook some meals for her. Above all, let her know you are there for her no matter what.
• Taking care of the baby, so the mother can sleep, take a shower or eat a good meal can make the world of difference. Offer to feed the baby for her or, if she is breastfeeding, have her nurse the baby and then the baby out for a walk whilst she sleeps.
• If a woman’s is overwhelmed by people visiting, kindly explain to them that she needs a lot of rest. Look after with whatever household duties usually fall to her (or get someone to help her) New mothers might not want to be away from their baby so she can just get some sleep in the bedroom or have a relaxing bath while the baby is being cared by you in another part of the house.
• Most women feel depressed about the way they look after childbirth. After changing so greatly to accommodate a baby’s development, a woman’s body takes months to regain any semblance of normality. Again, just listen and tell her that giving birth is the most amazing achievement for any woman to accomplish. Any compliments that acknowledge her unique beauty are sure to be greatly appreciated!
• Firstly, we say to partners serious congratulations on the birth of your child. Becoming a father is a giant step in your life. You need support too, so please if you are struggling open up to a friend and talk with them about how you feel if you are feeling overwhelmed. It is not uncommon for men to suffer from depression too when their partner suffers from it. Try and stay healthy, take regular exercise and do some things that you enjoy. Taking care of yourself is vital and will help you to be able to take care of your new family. Nurture Health is here to support partners too so if you need support please call us on 085 8619585 we are here for you.
• It is important for your partner to hear how much you love her and how great you think she is right now. With all that, she’s struggling with physically and emotionally. Please note your sexual relationship may change for a time but with professional help for your partner and over time this will improve and return as it was previously. This does not mean our partner does not love you – she just needs a little time, understanding and patience for now. For your information loss of libido is a very common side effect of depression and has nothing to do with you and how she feels about you.
For women and partners, Nurture Health fully understands how difficult bringing a child into this world can be and also with an extra life challenge such as a mental health illness liked post-natal depression, we are here for you both. Please click here to see how to contact us for immediate and confidential support.