3 Ways to Support a New Parent Struggling With a Postpartum Disorder
This week (April 29 to May 5) is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week. Childbirth and the postpartum period are often unrealistically portrayed in the media. (Thanks, Kate Middleton!) This discrepancy can often cause further feelings of depression and anxiety amongst new parents who see these images and feel they’re doing something wrong.
Parenting is hard and the reality is not always pretty. If a loved one or someone you know is struggling with a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, there are several different ways you can help support them.
1. Offer assistance, be specific and don’t take “no” for an answer.
While many new mothers (and fathers) may be feeling overwhelmed in the postpartum period, not all are willing to admit it. Whether it be due to stigma, pride or the sheer confusion/sleep deprivation that comes with a new baby, a new parent may not readily admit to needing your support. Instead of asking or putting additional pressure on a new parent to offer dates/times, simply identify when and how you plan to help out. For example, a simple, “I’m coming over at noon with a potpie and intend to do a load of laundry” will be most welcome, particularly when all those cute onesies are now covered in poop.
2. Be real.
Remember to share the good and the bad memories when talking to a new parent. Focusing only on your positive experiences may cause a new parent to feel judged or further convince they’re doing something wrong. Remember all those sleepless nights? You may look back with fondness now, but remember, you’re also probably getting more than two hours of sleep. Not all those early moments were gems.
3. Know when additional support is needed.
Sometimes it’s not easy to be objective, especially when under stress. If (postpartum) you’ve noticed significant changes in a loved one, offer some resources. Support groups, therapeutic groups or individual/family counseling are all great options that can help a new parent begin to feel better.
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Getty image via NataliaDeriabina