14 Ways to Help a Mother With Postpartum Depression

If a woman in your life has recently given birth then there’s a 1 in 7 chance they are struggling with postpartum depression.  It might be your partner, daughter, sister or friend but no matter who they are to you, it’s normal to feel helpless seeing them in pain.  From a mother who has battled it first hand, here are a few tips that might help you understand her better and be able to provide the right type of support.

14 Ways to Help a Mother with Postpartum Depression 14 Ways to Help a Mother with Postpartum Depression

*This post contains affiliate links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.

1. know the symptoms

It’s very common for a mother to be in denial about their postpartum depression at first.  Even if she does have her suspicions, it’s unlikely that she will admit it out loud.  This is why it’s important to recognize the symptoms in someone else so that, even if she doesn’t want to talk about it, you can be there to support her.

Resources:

Parenting Pod
Beyond Depression: Anxiety, Psychosis and Other Mental Disorders of Pregnancy and Postpartum
PostpartumDepression.org
Lots of useful information including a PPD Quiz
Logo for WebMD
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety -PostpartumProgress.com
Great detailed explanations of the symptoms
Postpartum-Depression-or-The-Baby-Blues.jpg
www.rachelrabinor.com

2. believe her

There is a lot of stigma around postpartum depression and many people still don’t believe it’s a real disease.  If she does open up to you about having postpartum depression – believe that her pain is real.  She is not being overly dramatic.  She is not “just tired.” Motherhood is overwhelming in general and it will be for a very long time but postpartum depression is different – it’s uncontrollable.

It can be really hard to tell the difference

3. help her get some rest

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Sleep deprivation can aggravate postpartum depression but postpartum depression can cause insomnia so it’s a lose-lose situation.  Do whatever you can to help her rest.  If she cannot sleep at night, then make sure she gets frequent, short naps in throughout the day.

[Dream Water is an all natural sleep aid that only contains 3 ingredients to help postpartum moms get the rest they need.]

4. don’t tell her things could be worse

It’s natural to want to tell her stories about someone else who had it worse in the hopes of making her feel better but it will have the adverse effect.  Instead of being thankful that she isn’t having suicidal thoughts, she might see her pain as insignificant and feel guilty for having such a difficult time when others are going through “things that are worse.”  It’s still important to make sure that she knows she isn’t alone – as long as she knows that debilitating pain from postpartum depression comes in all forms.


End Your Depression Book

The End Your Depression E-Book is a treatment plan that can help battle postpartum depression without the use of anti-depressants.

Click here to read my review of this treatment plan for postpartum depression.

5. don’t try to explain why

Yes, she’s tired, yes, breastfeeding is hard, yes, labour was intense but those are not the reasons why she has postpartum depression.  It’s not her fault.  If labour and recovery were a breeze, baby was nursing fine and sleeping well she could STILL have it.  Knowing that postpartum depression does not discriminate and there was nothing she could have done to avoid it will relieve some of her guilt.

postpartum depression
Join the study to help determine why some women get postpartum depression and others do not.

6. keep it on the down low

The last thing she wants is everyone at your office knowing about her postpartum depression and offering to help.  She will be mortified if someone she barely knows asks her how she’s feeling, no matter how good their intentions might be.  The day will come when she will openly want to talk about it but it should be her who decides when that is.

Click to read why

7. send her a text message but don’t expect a reply right away

Don’t expect her to answer the phone when you call.  Better yet, don’t phone her.  For someone with postpartum depression, their emotions change throughout the day without warning.  Chances are, when you want to talk, won’t be when she wants to talk and vice versa.  A text message is a great way to check in and see how she’s doing while allowing her to reply when SHE feels up to it.  You can even write something like “you don’t have to reply right away – whenever you feel like talking just text me.”

Postpartum Depression Gift Guide

8. don’t force her to socialize

And don’t be offended if she doesn’t want to see you.  She’s not trying to keep the baby all to herself.  Going out or hosting visitors means putting on a smile and talking to people when all she wants to do is be alone.  Even her inner circle can be extremely irritating.  Let her know that she can take all the time she needs and that you will be there for her when she’s ready.

Download this FREE printable PDF workbook for her to use as a safe place to write down her thoughts and feelings.
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9. cook food for her

Appetite changes are a major symptom of postpartum depression.  She will either not want to eat anything at all or not be able to stop eating. Having a fridge stocked with healthy ready-to-eat food will help her get the calories and nutrition she so desperately needs (especially if she’s breastfeeding) without all the added exhaustion of having to prepare it.


10. clean the house but don’t make a big deal about it

Moms are infamous for not asking for help.  Do it while she’s napping so she can’t tell you to stop.  Cleaning will be the last thing on her mind but looking around at piles of laundry, overflowing garbages or dishes in the sink will cause her more anxiety. It’s one thing to tell her not to worry about the cleaning, it’s another to make the clutter magically disappear.

The Maids
Or you can hire someone to do it for you!

11. get up with her in the middle of the night

If she’s breastfeeding, you may feel like there’s no point in getting up for night time feedings.  But those dark, lonely hours can be the scariest times for a mother with postpartum depression.  If for no other reason than to keep her company – get up with her. She may tell you that she’s OK and to go back to bed but at least get up and check on her – check if she needs anything, rub her feet or her back while she nurses.

12. help her find strangers to talk to

Don’t try to force her to talk to you about her feelings, even if you’ve been through it before.  It’s much easier to talk to strangers who understand and won’t judge her and who she may never see or talk to again.  She can be completely honest and vulnerable without having to worry about hurting someone’s feelings or having them take things the wrong way.

postpartum depression Facebook groups

Postpartum Support International
Momma’s Postpartum Depression Support Group
Postpartum Anxiety Support Group
Postpartum Depression Awareness

13. take pictures of her

Not happy, dressed up, perfectly posed pictures but real pictures.  Pictures of her nursing in her pajamas.  Pictures of her holding or sleeping beside the baby.  Pictures of her when she hasn’t showered in 3 days and has dried breast milk all over her shirt.  Take pictures of her crying.  Aim for honest pictures of her so that she can look back at them when she is better and remember this part of her life.  Reassure her that you will never show them to anyone else or post them anywhere, they are only for her.

Read my story here

14. wait it out

Don’t try to rush her recovery. Helping her find the right path to recovery is important but don’t keep asking if she’s feeling better yet. If she has a good day, don’t assume she’s past the worst of it. She may very well move past the postpartum depression and become the happy loving mother that everyone knew she would be, only to have a bout of baby sleep regression trigger some deep, uncontrollable emotions all over again.  Many women battle postpartum depression for years so if you’re in this with her – prepare to go the lengths for her.

A relapse is entirely possible

Postpartum depression is one of the most under-diagnosed conditions in North America for a reason.  Women, moms in particular, pride themselves in being able to handle it all and admitting that they are struggling or need help is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome.  While these tips may help the woman in your life open up to you, nothing is ever for certain when it comes to postpartum depression and many women experience it in different ways.  If all else fails, love her and support her and know that this too shall pass…


Submit a your postpartum depression story to RunninginTriangles.com
Get more info
postpartum depression
postpartum depression

The oldest will always be the first

first time mom

*This post contains affiliate links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.

You never forget your first.

I remember what it was like being a first time mom.  I can tell you more details about my first pregnancy, labour and delivery than I can with the others.  I remember those early days of motherhood trying to figure it all out.

Not much has changed. 

Except I’m not trying to figure out how to deal with my youngest’s teething troubles or diaper rash.  I’m not stressing about my middle child starting kindergarten – no, instead I’m wondering if my oldest child is keeping up in school.  I’m trying to figure out how to improve his social skills.  I’m googling what age kids start cutting their own toenails.  Every new challenge he faces is a new parenting challenge for me also.

home work

I haven’t been there before, I haven’t done that.  I don’t know what to expect for a child his age.

So when he’s struggling with homework I’m researching how to help him.  I’m downloading different templates to use as letters from the tooth fairy.  I’m freaking out when I realize how good he is at video games because I’m not sure if all 7 year old boys are that good or if I should start him a YouTube channel.

Being a mom of three has made me more comfortable in comparison to being a first time mom.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t still have daily panic attacks, especially when it comes to my oldest.  I second guess every decision I make with him because I don’t know how it will turn out.  I don’t know if it will work brilliantly or if it will scar him for life and the only way to find out is to wait and see.

In one month, for the first time in my life I will be the mother of a seven year old.  This is all new to me, just as it is to him.  And, similar to when I was a brand new mom, I’m excited about this adventure…

I am researching anything and everything that I might need to know.

I will run into at least one situation where I’ll have no idea what to do.

I will panic.

I will think he’s advanced for his age.

And then I will think he’s behind.

I will need to spend a fortune on clothes and shoes because he’s outgrown the old ones but will have no idea what size he needs.

I will make mistakes.

I will (hopefully) learn from those mistakes and apply them to my other children.

I might be an experienced mom of three but when it comes to him – I will always be a first time mom…

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How to Sleep Train a Newborn

As a new parent, you are probably bracing yourself for sleepless nights ahead.  Oh, they’re there.  I can’t get you out of that one.  Your baby is not going to sleep through the night on Day 1.  Or Day 7.  Or Day 64.  You may already be thinking about sleep training even if it feels like a long way off.

Having a routine is essential to sleep training at any age but the sooner you can implement it, the easier it will be as children get older.

This sleep training guide will help your newborn baby identify the difference between daytime and night time. 

It will lay the foundation for stricter sleep training at a later age. 

It will put the control back into your hands by helping you predict what your baby needs and recognizing the reason why they are crying.

Sleep Training
Sleep Training Guide Part 1: How to Sleep Train a Newborn Sleep Training Guide Part 1: How to Sleep Train a Newborn

* This post contains affiliate links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.

** Furthermore, I am not a sleep training expert, just a mother who’s been there and lived to tell the tale.


SLEEP TRAINING IN THE MORNING

Open the curtains  

Let as much sunlight into your home as possible or sit by a sunny window.  The point is to associate “daytime ” with brightness and noise.

Skin to skin contact  

Strip baby down to a diaper and lay them on your bare chest or cuddle next to them in bed.

Another great option for skin to skin contact is to carry them around in a wrap-style carrier while shirtless. My personal favorite for this is the Boba Wrap for it’s strong, soft material and generous coverage.  Other options include the Moby Wrap, Baby K’tan and Daisy Gro to name a few.

amazon.com

Give baby a really good feeding

If you’re breastfeeding, now is the time to work on perfecting that latch.  Try out different breastfeeding positions, make lots of eye contact, stroke your baby’s skin and talk to them.  Keep them undressed and try not to let them fall asleep during the feed.  Check out my post on breast compression for more tips!

How, When & Why to do Breast Compression

Get a good burp

Different methods work for different kids but this is so, SO important.  Try gentle bouncing or laying them on their tummy across your arm or leg instead of patting their back.  The number one reason why newborn babies cry after a feeding is because of gas. Often, babies will put their hands to their mouths or seem to root around when they need to burp which can be confusing if baby just finished nursing.

Get a good poop 

This will usually happen on it’s own, so it’s really just a waiting game.  You can try “pumping” their legs or holding them in a “sitting position” to get things moving.

Encourage playtime 

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Talk or sing to baby, have tummy time and lots of skin to skin contact – you want the environment to be stimulating and playful but not over stimulating, so watch for cues that baby is done with a certain activity.  (This proves more difficult than it sounds because many newborns and young babies spend more time sleeping than anything else!)

When looking for a tummy time mat – try to find one that has a detachable pillow to help prop baby up a bit.  Many babies dislike being flat on their tummies, especially when they’re not strong enough to lift themselves up yet.  The pillow is a great option for newborns.  I like this Skip Hop Owl one and this one from Infantino.

Watch for signs of sleepiness

Eyelids will droop, they may stare off in one direction or may start to get fussy.

Put them to sleep in their crib(or wherever you want them to normally sleep)

Graco Maddox Crib – Amazon.ca

It may be tempting to hold and rock that baby for the next 2 hours but the sooner you can get them accustomed to sleeping in their own bed, the better (don’t worry, you can get in lots of cuddles during “playtime”).

If they cry when you put them down, you can try feeding or burping them again but you don’t want baby to fall asleep too heavily, the idea is to put baby down when they are sleepy but not actually asleep.  This habit is important for sleep training at a later age so it’s a good idea to do this as often as possible with your newborn because they don’t usually object to it at this age. 

Sleep Training Guide
Pin It!

SLEEP TRAINING DURING NAPTIME

Keep the curtains open

Daytime sleep needs to be different from night time sleep, so keep the room bright.

Make noise

Play music in the background or open a window to let in street noise.  If you have older children, don’t shush them while baby naps.  Basically, go about your regular every day activities.  This will teach baby to nap despite life happening around them.

Wake baby up after 2 hours

and start over again.  It might sound cruel to wake up a sleeping baby but wouldn’t you rather save that sleepiness for 3 am?


The goal throughout the day is to pump baby full of food and offer stimulation and attention.


SLEEP TRAINING AT BEDTIME

Make sure that baby has been up for at least 1 – 2 hours before bedtime

Even a 10 minute nap in the car can sustain a baby with enough energy to last all night. It will take some work to plan out baby’s nap times but it is much easier to put a sleep baby to bed than it is to wrestle with an energetic one.

Dim the lights

Amazon.ca

The wakeful period before bedtime should be focused on quiet and calm – different than the wakeful periods during the day.  Close the curtains or install blackout blinds.

I love the Gro Anywhere portable blackout blinds because they attach to windows with suction cups, which makes it super easy to sleep train no matter where you are

You still want to make sure baby gets a really good feed, burp and poop.

*Ahem* this is your life now…

Tone down the playtime

JohnsonsBaby.com

You can bathe and/or massage baby, but talk in soft voices and don’t offer too much stimulation or vigorous play.

The Johnson’s Baby website has some excellent tutorials and tips on baby massage.

Try NOT to feed baby right before bed

Aim for a 1/2 hour before bedtime so that they don’t fall asleep while nursing.

Initiate the “BEDTIME ROUTINE”

A bedtime classic – indigo.ca

You will be performing this routine nearly every night for a long time, so decide now what it will include – a bedtime story or a lullaby?  Nightlight? Sound machine?  Saying goodnight to everything in their bedroom?

Over the years the bedtime routine will evolve as your child grows.  But it should always include a calming activity and something that is reserved specifically for bedtime so as to give your baby the bedtime signal.

Put baby to bed when you see the early signs of sleepiness

It’s worth repeating here – put baby down when they are sleepy but not actually asleep. The younger the baby, the more they are acting on instincts and as long as all of their needs are met, they shouldn’t protest when you put them down.

If baby cries when you put them down… 

Try feeding or burping again until they get drowsy.  If baby falls asleep while nursing, just try to get them into bed as soon as possible afterwards.  Try your best to remain positive about the process, or baby will sense your anxiety.

6 Ways to Make Sleep Training a Positive Experience
Here are some tips for staying positive

Once baby is down for the night – DO NOT WAKE BABY UP TO EAT. 

They will wake up on their own (because food > sleep).  But hopefully they will sleep for longer than 2 hour intervals at night.

For added peace of mind, you may want to invest in a good baby monitor. Reviews.com has a comprehensive breakdown of the different baby monitors on the market and lists their top three here.

SLEEP TRAINING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT 

If and when baby wakes up in the middle of the night…

Do not turn on any lights

Keep the room as dark and quiet as possible.  A nightlight offers just enough lighting for you to see what you’re doing but the idea is to help baby associate night time with darkness and quiet.

amazon.com

These candle-inspired nightlights offer the perfect amount of soft lighting for a baby’s nursery.  I love that they’re rechargeable which means you don’t need access to an exposed socket in the nursery OR have to spend a fortune on batteries.  The coolest feature – you blow them to turn them on or off just like a real candle!

Keep baby dressed

Save the skin to skin contact for the daytime.

Feed baby

Because you’re pumping them full of milk during the day, you don’t need to worry about how much they’re getting in the middle of the night.  This is a great time to use the breast compression technique while breastfeeding.  Most likely, baby will fall asleep during nursing.

Do not talk to or stimulate baby in any way

If you’re smooth enough – you might be able to convince baby that this is just a dream and that they aren’t really awake at all…

Only change a diaper if it’s poopy

Amazon.ca

If baby had enough poopy diapers during the day then the chances of a poopy diaper at night are slim (though they do happen).  If you absolutely must change a diaper, use a warm wipe or washcloth and try to make it as quick as possible.

Get a good burp

but don’t try any fancy positions that might overstimulate baby unless they seem to be having a lot of trouble with gas.

Immediately return baby to crib

Don’t make a big deal out of night time wake ups, and if possible, try not to move baby out of their room.

Continue this routine for all night time feedings until morning and then begin the daytime routine all over again.

[Johnson’s Bedtime Baby Sleep App is a great tool for tracking your baby’s sleep patterns – Download it for FREE!]


Sleep Training Guide Part 2: The Trick to Sleep Training
Part 2

see part two of the running in triangles sleep training guide For more TIPS


Have you tried all these tips and your baby is STILL not sleeping through the night?

There could be something you’re missing.  All babies are different, and there isn’t ONE plan that works for everyone.  Don’t be afraid to seek help from an expert.  Read my review of The Baby Sleep Site for more information.

The Baby Sleep Site Review
Read my review of The Baby Sleep Site

For additional sleep training tips, check out this blog post by Taylor Jones from Dromma.

Tips to Get Your Kids to Sleep
drommabed.com
How to Sleep Train