Overcoming postnatal depression and anxiety together

Postnatal depression and anxiety can affect mums, dads, and the whole family. Your partner, family and friends can play a huge role in supporting you. There are also various ways in which you can help yourself too – alongside any treatment you're getting.

Who can support you?

Your partner can have a particularly important role to play in your recovery, because sometimes they are the only person you can be yourself with. It may also be other members of your family or friends or a combination of all.

Your partner, family and friends can be a great source of support, love and understanding and can encourage you to seek help as well as be with you when you speak to your health visitor, midwife or GP. Chances are they may even be better at remembering what is said in a consultation – or help by writing things down that you want to say. Remember that they want to help because they care about you and your baby - not because they think you're a failure.

However, those who are supporting you can also bear the brunt of your tears, anger and distress. Research has shown that men whose partners have PND are at a higher risk of depression themselves. Some feel the pressures and new challenges of becoming a parent can be too much to cope with, or they may feel they are not giving their partner the support she needs. So remember that your GP can help both of you.

Top tips for dads

  1. This is a new experience for everyone and becoming a dad can be an emotional time. Talk to your partner and tell her about any anxieties you might have – chances are she is also experiencing them. You can also talk to friends, family or your GP. There is support out there, if you need it. You are not alone.
  2. Don’t be scared to ask midwives, health visitors or GPs questions about pregnancy or your baby, they are there for you too. The more information you have, the more you will know what to do to help and the more confident you will be as a parent.
  3. Your baby is a 24/7 job. If you or your partner go out to work, try to share the care of your baby when you are back home as staying at home with baby can be just as exhausting as a day at work.
  4. Protect time to spend with your partner and your baby. Think about what works best for your family.
  5. Think about ‘me time’ for you and also your partner. Make sure you both get sufficient breaks.
  6. Take time to get to know your baby – the different sounds she makes when happy or unhappy and what she likes best, such as skin-to-skin contact with you or going for a walk or jog with the buggy.
  7. Try to get out of the house regularly as a family, even just to go for a short walk. It is easy to feel trapped if you stay inside too much and the exercise and fresh air will do you all good.
  8. Remember that little surprises make a huge impact. Maybe prepare some breakfast, lunch or dinner for your partner so they don’t have to when you are not there.
  9. Don’t be tempted to take on more work. Extra money sounds good but extra help at home is even better.
  10. Negotiate with your partner how best to share feeding, nappy changing, bathing nd playtime.

Top tips for visitors

  • Please ask mum and dad how you can best help ands upport them at this time as although exciting it can also be stressful.
  • Don’t just pop in, phone first.
  • Take sandwiches and cake with you and offer to make the tea/coffee.
  • Offer to do some household chores, such as ironing, empty the washing machine or ask if they need any shopping.
  • Please don’t pick up baby unless invited to - or ask first.
  • Limit visits to 30 minutes, one hour maximum, and never overstay.
  • Consider giving the option of visiting you at home or a coffee shop.
  • Take a present for mum as well as baby - such as bubble bath.
  • Offer to look after older children to allow mum to have a sleep.
  • Please resist the temptation to give advice on babycare/parenting unless asked.
  • If mum appears to be struggling emotionally, encourage her to speak to her midwife, health visitor or GP.
Last Updated: 24 January 2018
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