3 Keys to Supporting Your Partner Through Postpartum Depression (PPD)
Updated: Oct 24, 2019
There’s nothing fun about postpartum depression (PPD)—for anyone involved.
So often, the focus is on the mother who is struggling with PPD, and it should be. Still, it’s easy to overlook what the other person in the relationship might be dealing with.
It’s challenging to see someone you care about feeling depressed, especially after bringing a new life into the world.
Yet, what you do and how you show support to your partner can make a big difference. While you can’t make PPD go away (it will on its own over time), you can try to make things easier for your partner, and let them know these feelings won’t last forever.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and really want to support your partner through their PPD, keep these three keys in mind.
1. Try to Understand How She Feels
Instead of showering your partner with compliments to make her feel better, try to empathize with her. Tell her that you understand that she feels awful, but that things will get better—she will feel better.
In the meantime, offer your support and let her know that you love her. Ask her to let you know what you can do to help out.
When you acknowledge your partner’s depression instead of trying to ignore it or cover it up, she will feel less overwhelmed. It’s important for her to feel like she has someone to talk to, and a circle of support in place.
2. She’s Still a Good Mother
When a woman is going through PPD, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t adore her new baby. But, the symptoms of the depression can sometimes make it difficult to care for the child in the way she would want to, otherwise.
Assure your partner that she’s still a good mother and that the baby will be just fine. You know she’s working hard, and she’s taking all the right steps to get through the way she’s feeling.
Make sure she sees that you’re following through on those statements, too. A lot of the care for your new baby may fall on you for a while. That’s something to take very seriously, not only for your baby’s wellbeing but for your partner’s peace of mind.
3. Don’t Disregard It as a Phase
While postpartum depression does eventually go away, it can be awful when you’re going through it. By suggesting to your partner that it’s just a phase, or telling them to get over it, you’re disregarding what they’re truly feeling.
Avoid saying how happy she should be because of the baby. Even if you’re exhausted and frustrated, try to keep those complaints from her for the time being. Guilt will only make things worse, and she may have a harder time coping with PPD.
It’s also not a good idea to tell her to make changes in order to feel better. Don’t suggest she go back to work, color her hair, try a new diet, etc. You might mean well, thinking a change in routine will help, but those things can trigger guilt, too. They can even affect her self-esteem and make her feel as though she isn’t good enough to be a new mother.
You don’t have to walk on eggshells around your partner if she’s struggling with postpartum depression, but it’s important to be understanding. It’s true that many women have to deal with it after giving birth and yet, that doesn’t mean it’s something to be disregarded. Every case is different.
I can work with both of you to develop strategies that can help you get through this stage. Again, no one can force PPD to go away. But, together, we can work on managing it and making life a little easier for everyone. To learn more about how counseling can help with your parenting journey, please click here.
If your partner is dealing with PPD and you’re not sure what to do, please feel free to contact me. I offer a complimentary phone consultation to all potential clients. To schedule yours in a matter of seconds, please check here.
COMING SOON! A workshop for couples who are thinking about or planning to have a baby, who are expecting a baby or who have children already. Based on years of research and experience and developed by the Gottman Institute, this 12 hour workshop is designed to repair communication skills and jump start your relationship with your partner. For more information, please click here.
Jennifer Perera is a mom, spouse and Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has over a decade’s worth of experience in mental health. She has a private practice in New Jersey, with locations in Cranford and Princeton. Her passion is helping new moms and dads find their joy again in parenthood through individual, group and couples counseling. Jennifer specializes in working with parents during the prenatal and postpartum periods and those coping with a pregnancy loss or infertility. Her other passion is travelling to different parts of the world and her goal is to vacation in a different locale every time. She also has a great fondness for cats!