The birth of a baby can bring about a variety of emotions, from joy and excitement to anxiety and fear. For many women, it can result in depression. According to the CDC, one in eight women deals with postpartum depression. Unfortunately, many women do not tell people how they feel either due to guilt, feeling like they are alone, or even feeling like they are a failure for struggling like this. So, even if it appears your friend or a family member is doing fine, we encourage you to reach out and help. We have a few tips on how to help and support a mother who may be battling postpartum depression:
1) Offer specific types of help.
If all you say to the new mom in your life is, "Let me know how I can help," you are missing an opportunity. Be specific in the ways you can help. Offer to babysit or do laundry while she has a little alone time or takes a nap. If she has an older child, offer to babysit that child for a few hours while she spends time with the new baby. You can even drop off some of her favorite foods and pick up any essentials that she'll need throughout her day.
2) Be a good listener.
Being at home with a baby without anyone there to socialize with can be very difficult. So, while you are there, keep good company and be a good listener. Encourage your friend to talk about her feelings, and don't just ask about the baby. Ask how she's doing. Also, if you have children of your own, sharing your experiences as a new mom and any emotions you struggled with will help her feel less alone. Just be sure you aren't doing most of the talking.
3) Celebrate what she is doing well.
When a woman struggles with postpartum depression, she may not be able to acknowledge the small victories. She may be solely focused on what isn't going right. So, celebrate the successes and remind her what she is doing right. Point out how healthy and happy the baby is, or praise her for eating breakfast or being in a good mood. Any way you can, highlight and praise her successes.
Supporting someone suffering from postpartum depression is not easy. You may run into the feeling that you aren't helping at all. Most importantly, the new mom in your life will always remember everything you did to reach out and support. Simply being there for the mom and letting her know she isn't alone can mean the world.