If you think someone you know may be experiencing postnatal depression and/or anxiety, here are some things that can help:
Encourage your partner to talk openly about how she is feeling and try not to be upset by some of the negative things she might reveal (there are many myths around mothering).
Be reassuring and supportive. Let her know the hard times will end, that you still care, that the little things don’t matter (bed, dishes, cleaning etc.)
Offer sympathetic listening, patience, affection, and a positive outlook. Listen to her and try and understand how it feels for her. No need to try and ‘fix’ everything.
Offer practical help. Take a positive lead with chores and baby care. It really helps if you make a cup of tea/coffee, a meal or whatever without being asked.
Support her to seek help from services such as postnatal depression groups, community mental health services, Home Help assistance, or counselling.
Reason, logic and decisions making are not at peak performance when you are feeling down. Where practical, defer major decisions. Make little ones yourself i.e. what to dress baby in, what to have for dinner.
Include yourself in visits to the doctor, this is a family situation. Offer to take her to appointments and to be with her if she wants a support person.
Look after yourself. Talk to others about how you are feeling as the support person. At times it can be difficult so develop a support system for yourself and for your time out.
Adjusting to the father role is exciting and challenging, it can also feel overwhelming and tiring as there is a lot to learn, very quickly, so fathers need support too.
There are various ways fathers can get support:
Find out which services Plunket offers in your area. You can also contact PlunketLine anytime on freephone 0800 933 922.