“The reason why she acknowledged the pain that she’s going through was for her to let other women know that they’re not alone, and that it can happen to anyone.
To be honest, I was really scared because I didn’t know what exactly she was feeling, or how to help her. All I knew was that it was my job to do everything I could to help her and try to understand what she was going through. It’s about being compassionate and supporting her, and telling her no matter what, I am going to be there for her and that I love her.”
Those were the words of soul singer, John Legend, in response to his wife’s now popular essay for Glamour magazine, where she revealed she had suffered from postpartum depression, after the birth of her daughter, Luna, last April, and it warmed my heart.
Especially the part where he said he knew it was his job to do everything he could to help her…if only most men would feel exactly like that.
You see postpartum depression steals the joy of motherhood. It doesn’t matter if you are a new mom, like Chrissy, and had been trying for years before the baby came along, or you are veteran momma. It can happen to anyone. And the symptoms can vary too.
Postpartum depression brings with it lots of emotional upheavals, unsure feelings, that having some routine, having a sure support system, can go a long way in ensuring that a new mom gets out of the rut a lot faster than if she had to do it on her own.
Even though I didn’t experience this phenomenon, I witnessed it with quite a few people, but it wasn’t until years later that I realised what the issue was, and also got confirmation from the persons concerned.
One those persons was my immediate older sister, when she birthed her daughter, who was a preemie. My sis was shell shocked and quite unlike her very beauty-queen priming self.
She stopped bothering with what she wore, make up and so many other things that we all identified her with. She wouldn’t even do anything about her bulging tummy. Her husband had to ask her one time, when he came to the hospital after work, if someone had died. When she didn’t have an answer, he wondered why she was acting that way.
This was my sister’s first daughter and third child, and up until that third childbirth, every time I saw her after giving birth, she was always in a chirpy mood, nicely dressed with all bulges and spills packed away. She didn’t always fit my imagination of someone who had just given birth back then.
So, when it didn’t happen like that with her third child, I put it down to the fact that it was as a result of the baby being premature.
She snapped out of it a bit when the baby got out of the hospital, but she was soon looking morose and tired again and my step-mum took up residence in her house for a long time thereafter.
The role my brother-in-law played was quite negligible. He basically carried on as usual, and this is not to diss him, because it took all of us years to realise that my sister had suffered from depression, so it wasn’t a case of he knew but didn’t do anything.
And not knowing is a major challenge for both the women and men (yes, new dads can suffer from PPD), who suffer from this condition, and it makes recovery harder.
So, here are a few things men can do to help their spouses through a phase of postpartum depression.
For another mom, who had to deal with it twice, interestingly, one was after a miscarriage (as though the pain of a miscarriage wasn’t enough). She pinned her PPD after her miscarriage down to grief, but when it happened after the birth of her rainbow baby, she knew there was more to it.
Luckily for her, her husband thought the same thing and, together, they got educated about the condition.
And this is the first step in battling PPD with your partner. It is important to know exactly what you are dealing with. The internet has tons of information that will help one understand exactly what your partner is going through. More knowledge on the subject and how to deal with it will help your partner.
Reduce her workload
When a mother gives birth, they have the responsibility of caring for the new person, especially if they breastfeed.
As a husband, you may decide to take the bulk of the household and baby responsibility, until your partner feels a little better and is more capable and mentally strong enough to handle everything.
Or you can get someone to help her, preferably family.
Provide positive bonding opportunities for mom and baby
Mothers with postpartum depression often struggle to bond with their new-born babies. The child, unfortunately, is a reminder of everything that scares them. Today, most mothers are very busy and will need extra help to provide quiet, uninterrupted moments to just enjoy their baby.
It will be helpful for the new father, or relative, to take care of the baby’s needs and present the baby to the mother when he/she is sleeping or satisfied.
You might also spend time alone with your wife to simply admire and discuss the beautiful, awe-inspiring elements of the child you have created together.
Get medical help
Sometimes it is difficult for people to recognize that they are depressed, especially a person who is outgoing and always happy.
It is even harder to come to terms with it. A person who is experiencing PPD sometimes has no idea of what they are experiencing and needs help to identify and deal with the problem.
As a partner, it can fall to you to make the suggestion for them to seek outside help.
Even with the risk of PPD, giving birth is an awesome, life-changing event. It may, however, leave the mother feeling a bit overwhelmed. When that happens, she needs the new dad more than ever.
Dear new dad, your help can make a big difference in her recovery.
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