How to Support a Loved One with Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression (PPD) is a psychological condition wherein new mothers experience negative feelings after giving birth, as opposed to the happiness and excitement that one might expect. Fortunately, postpartum depression is treatable, and if you know someone going through this condition, there are many ways you can help.

How to Support a Loved One with Postpartum Depression
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How to Support a Loved One with Postpartum Depression

But first, how do you know if your friend or family member is suffering from postpartum depression? Here are the symptoms of PPD to look out for:

Symptoms of PPD

As opposed to ‘baby blues,’ which lasts from a few days to a couple of weeks in new moms, postpartum depression causes more intense and long-lasting symptoms, such as:

When left untreated, postpartum depression can last for many months or even longer. Over time, this condition can affect the mother’s physical health, mental health, and relationships with family and friends, especially their child.

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If you want to help a loved one with PPD, here are different ways you can support them:

How to support a mom with PPD

1. Bring a gift

Although a gift won’t magically solve a new mom’s PPD, it can help give them at least a bit of happiness during this trying time. When you visit them, bring a gift that they can use for their hobby, such as a half square triangle ruler, or bring them their favorite food. As long as there is a possibility that the gift will bring a smile to their face, it doesn’t matter how small it is.

Gifts for Mothers with Postpartum Depression
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2. Focus on her

After a woman gives birth, the people around her tend to focus most (if not all) of their attention on the baby. This is not to be malicious, but the excitement of a new arrival usually overshadows the mother’s well-being after giving birth. So when you visit your loved one, make the conversation about her, not about the baby. Ask her about her day. Let her know that she is not forgotten. And most importantly, listen to what she has to say.

3. Offer to help

Postpartum depression can make mothers feel utterly exhausted, even when they aren’t doing anything physically taxing. As a result, household chores remain undone, and the errand list keeps getting longer. Offering to do a chore around the house or run an errand for them can help ease the burden on their shoulders, even by just a bit, so be sure to offer anytime you can.

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4. Give her space

It’s essential to be there for a loved one suffering from PDD, but sometimes you have to pull back and give them space. At times, mothers with postpartum depression need time alone to process their feelings and acknowledge their thoughts in silence. This is especially important during the first few weeks after the baby arrives, wherein everybody wants to see the baby and a million things need to be done in the house.

5. Don’t invalidate her feelings

Instead of saying, “You will be a great mom, you don’t have to worry,” when a new mother voices their concerns, use phrases such as “I understand how you are feeling that way” or “That sounds difficult.” By echoing their concerns instead of disputing them, you help make them feel validated in their feelings, which, in turn, can help reduce guilt and anxiety associated with PDD.

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6. Share your own story

If you have experienced (or are experiencing) PDD or non-pregnancy-related depression and anxiety, ask them if they want to hear about your story. When a woman hears that another person close to them is going through or has gone through the same thing, it can provide them the comfort that they need to push forward.

7. Accompany her to doctor’s appointments

Prompt treatment of postpartum depression is essential. To provide your support, offer to accompany them during their appointments if their spouse or partner cannot make it.

What to do if you think you have postpartum depression
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If you want to support a mother suffering from postpartum depression, be specific about what you want to help with. Instead of saying, “I’m here if you need me,” which can be very vague, offer to help with specific tasks, such as doing the grocery shopping, babysitting, or doing the laundry. In any case, every bit of help you give can make it easier for your loved one to recover.

Can you think of other ways to help a mom with PPD? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.

How to Reclaim Your Sleep After Having a Baby

All moms could use a little extra sleep.

Whether you’re a brand new mom or a seasoned one, sleep is something we all crave.  The months shortly after having a baby are the worst for sleep deprivation and there’s usually no avoiding it.  But once you’ve got baby into a good routine and you’ve settled into motherhood a bit better, you can start to focus on how to reclaim all your lost hours of sleep.

Mom of two and freelance writer, Lisa Smalls, shares some tips on how to reclaim your sleep after having a baby.
How to Reclaim Your Sleep After Having a Baby
*This post may contain affiliate links. This is a guest post and all opinions are those of the author.

Having a new baby will be one of the greatest feelings in your life, however, that thrill can be quickly replaced with the fatigue, lack of focus, anxiety and an increased temper all due to sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation is acquiring fewer than the seven-plus recommended hours of sleep each night. While newborn babies can sleep 16 to 20 hours each day, those hours are stretched into bursts which are often inconveniently disturbed when the parent is trying to sleep.

On average, a mother in the first three months after having a baby can lose between one and two hours of sleep each night and for both parents they can experience sleep deprivation for up to six years after the birth. While some people can get an adequate amount of sleep at six hours, most need between seven and nine, so those critical couple hours of loss after childbirth can make a big impact on your quality of sleep, especially considering the hours you do get are broken up into two-hour segments dictated by the baby’s fits.

Postpartum Anxiety Insomnia 1
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Your body requires not only that you receive seven hours, but also that those hours are subsequent to each other and they are quality sleep. Sleep is the way your body processes thoughts, emotions, memories and helps your body relax and repair. Without consistent sleep your body does not have the ability to process and file all of your information or process it correctly. This leads to a haze during the day resulting in fatigue, lack of focus, lack of motivation, mood swings and anxiety. In turn, these symptoms lead to additional insomnia. So, when your baby is sleeping at night, you may not be able to. It is a vicious cycle.

As your baby ages, additional challenges such as potty training, nightmares, and the concerns of your growing toddler and an active imagination result in sleep deprivation. Though the sleep deprivation you will likely experience as your child ages may not be as complicated as those first few months, it also provides the same symptoms.

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So, what can a parent (especially a mother) do to reclaim sleep after giving birth? Here are five tips.

Create a routine for you and the baby

Okay, to be fair your baby is probably not going to pay attention to a routine in the beginning. But, with practice and commitment a routine can help your baby sleep in longer bouts and learn to sleep so that after four months your baby may actually sleep through the entire night. Routine is good and setting a sleep routine such as bath, reading, cuddling, and sleep will be a great payback for the future.

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Accept help

This is such an important factor in helping you sleep that you should keep a sign on your refrigerator as a reminder. After having a baby friends and family will practically tackle each other to offer help and cuddle with that little cutie. But, parents are often unwilling to accept the help. This may be from guilt or simply because it is difficult allowing someone else (including mom) to watch your baby without you there. But, whether someone offers to watch your baby a couple hours, help with the chores, or just hang out to give you a little break, it all pays off.

Keep the baby near you (but not in your bed)

A nursery is great, but it might be better after the six-month mark. In those first months your baby will wake up every couple hours and one way to miss out on sleep is that long walk to the nursery to feed. SIDS is a serious concern and one of the biggest no-no’s is letting your newborn sleep in bed with you. So, whether you have a crib or bassinet in the room keeping your baby close will help you feed without too much hassle.

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Don’t worry about the dishes

Having a baby does not mean you have lost your old life, but it does mean you need to adjust going forward. That might mean that if you were emphatic about getting all the chores done and having a spotless house, those chores just might have to wait until you are having a nice relaxing day as the kids play with the grandparents. This does not mean you should live like a hoarder but prioritizing your sleep over missing a night of sweeping the floor, means you should really get your zzz’s.


Author Bio: Lisa is a mom of two and freelance writer from North Carolina. She regularly writes for the sleep health website Mattress Advisor, which has taught her so much about the importance of sleep (especially as a working mom). When she isn’t working on commissions, she loves connecting, encouraging and learning with other parents through her writing.