Here are a few helpful ways to support a partner with postnatal depression
Top tips – coping with PND
If you think your wife/partner may be suffering from Postnatal depression, don’t feel helpless – there are things you can do:
- Listen. Give her time to talk, both to you and time with female friends who may be able to support her. She needs to feel free to express her feelings and fears. Give her the space to do this, even if it means keeping your mouth shut.
- Get help. You can’t do this on your own. Professional help is available – from speaking to the health visitor, calling NHS 111 Service or taking your wife to see the GP. It will also help greatly if you can be with her when she sees health professionals to explain what is happening as she may find it very difficult. Help also means calling in favours from grandparents, friends, and neighbours. You may need meals, cleaning, or help with baby and other children. Don’t go it alone.
- Be reassuring. Remind her that PND is an illness, not a reflection on her, and it is treatable. Tell her she is not a failure, you will be there with her, and you will find a way through this time. You may not have a solution – men do like to ‘fix’ things — but giving her hugs and being reassuring can be just enough to help her through another day.
- Get informed. Check out the web for PND information, find out what the common symptoms are, how long they may last, and what treatments are available. Knowledge is power.
- Take it one day at a time. Remember: With the right help and support, this time will pass. There will be good days and bad days, but take each as it comes. Celebrate and enjoy the good days; reassure and support on the bad days.
- Be practical. What can you do to support your wife and baby? Could you get up in the night or do some extra cleaning, meal preparation, or food shopping? Try asking your wife what she would like. Prompt her with some of these suggestions if she can’t come up with anything and use your eyes: look around – what needs doing? Something little like changing your sheets & giving your bedroom a tidy-up can make for a better night’s sleep.
- Talk. Share your concerns with trusted friends or family members. It’s good for you and it will let them know what is happening so they can offer to help…and when they do, please say yes!
- Keep calm and carry on. As tough as this sounds when it feels like life is falling apart, your wife needs you to be strong, and your baby needs to be cared for.
- Take time out. If you work, find out what leave you may be entitled to with a new baby. The DirectGov website contains up-to-date advice on paternity leave, parental leave, and compassionate leave, which you may be entitled to. With all that is going on, you need extra time, not only to care for your wife and baby but – just as importantly – yourself. Don’t neglect your own needs. You can’t take care of everyone else’s needs if you’re not seeing to your own.