Having a baby is a time of transition as a new person is welcomed into the world. Routines change, finances can be strained, and careers put on hold during maternity leave or altered drastically.
But the overwhelming assumption is that it should be the most joyous time ever. The fact of the matter is this however: 70-80% of new moms experience the baby blues and 15-20% experience a postpartum mood disorder such as anxiety or depression.
Given these statistics, it's time to admit that many new moms are not feeling okay, that it’s okay not to be okay, and it’s fine to talk about it. But new moms also need to know that help is available so that they can get back to feeling like themselves as quickly as possible.
So, if someone you know and love just had a baby, how can you make sure they’re doing okay?
Don’t Expect Them to Come Forward
Most of the time, we assume all new moms are okay. Why wouldn’t they be? With a brand new baby, everyone should feel an indescribable amount of joy, right? That isn’t always the case.
But, that’s the stereotype we’ve attributed to new mothers after childbirth. Some new moms don’t come forward and talk about their struggles because it doesn’t fit the stereotype. They might feel as though there is something wrong with them.
So, don’t be afraid to ask them if everything is okay. Ask how they are doing and if they need any help with anything from preparing meals to cleaning the house. You can even offer to watch the baby for a couple of hours so they can get some rest.
Dads Need Help, Too
It’s not just new moms who might not be doing well after a baby is born. It’s a significant life transition for the entire family. Unfortunately, new fathers often get overlooked, as most of the attention falls on mom and baby.
Even if a new mother is doing okay with the new life change, that doesn’t mean dad is. Fathers can quickly feel overwhelmed by the new responsibilities they have to face, and in some cases, it can feel like a time of crisis for a family—especially if it’s a first child.
It’s essential to note that fathers shouldn’t be ignored after a baby is born. They might not be okay. Also, because there are even more stereotypes in place about men needing to be “strong” or “tough,” they may have an even harder time coming forward and admitting they need help.
It’s Okay to Not Be Okay
New moms, this part is for you! It’s okay not to be okay. Often, the vocalization of this to someone you trust can open up the doors to help you get the help you need to feel better again.
New motherhood changes everything in an instant. Struggling to cope or to take hold of your life once again doesn’t make you a bad mother. And it doesn’t mean you don’t love your baby. It just means you’re going through a significant life transition and need some help with it.
If more mothers (and fathers) did step forward with their struggles after having a baby, maybe things like postpartum depression wouldn’t seem so severe.
You don’t have to suffer in silence. Needing help is normal. Asking for it should be, too.
To learn more about how counseling can help with during the postpartum months, please click here.
If you’re struggling or feel you need help after having a baby, but don’t know how to bring it up to anyone, feel free to contact me. Together, we’ll go through how you could admit your struggles to the people closest to you, so they’ll know what they can do to help you through it all. 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!