PND can affect the whole family, not just the new mum. Your partner, family and friends can play a huge role in supporting you if you suffer from PND. There are also various ways in which you can help yourself too – alongside any treatment you’re getting.
PND and your partner
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. Your partner 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, partners can also bear the brunt of your tears, anger and distress. This can be exhausting and upsetting to live with and some partners may feel angry, excluded or even overwhelmed at this time. Research has shown that men whose partners have PND are at a higher risk of depression themselves, so remember that your GP can help your partner too.
How partners, family or friends can help
Partners can play a crucial role in spotting the signs of PND and persuading the affected mum to seek help. So if you’re close to someone and think she may be suffering, refer to the questions about PND on her behalf and encourage her to seek help, for your and the baby’s sake, as well as hers.
- getting plenty of rest is important for all new mums. Offer to look after the baby so that she can have a good rest, ideally in the middle of the day
- help round the house – cooking, cleaning or laundry
- encourage her to look after herself by eating regularly, drinking plenty of water and taking a break now and then
- take the baby out for a walk in the pram for a couple of hours, pick up essentials from the supermarket, make up a sandwich for lunch time and leave it in the fridge with some other snacks
- be prepared to listen, encourage her to seek help from her GP, health visitor or midwife and remember that it will pass.
Look after yourself
At a time when everyone’s focus is on your new baby, it’s all too easy to lose sight of your own needs. Just getting a little ‘me’ time can give you some much needed breathing space.
So, take up any offers of help around the house or with your baby and try and do some of the following things for yourself:
- indulge in a treat or meet up with some friends for coffee
- try and put your feet up when your baby’s asleep
- get into a night-time routine – have a bath, a hot drink and read for while
- do some exercise – even just a short walk can make you feel physically better and that can make you feel emotionally better too
- make sure you eat regular, nutritious meals, rather than quick-fix snacks
- express your feelings – talk to someone you trust, or write it all down.