Giving birth is a life changing experience for a woman, whether it is her first time or not. After giving birth, your partner will have intense emotions and may feel tired or tearful for no reason. These symptoms are known as baby blues, and will pass within a few days. However, when your partner is still moody or withdrawn days later, postnatal depression can often be the cause. PND is an illness that will not suddenly disappear, and your partner will need your understanding and your help.
What is postnatal depression?
Unlike the baby blues, PND is a long term illness that is more common than one might think. With around one in eight moms now being diagnosed, this illness is indeed very real. Signs that your partner may be suffering from PND include her being tired all the time, sad, withdrawn and even feeling guilty. She may feel that she is an inadequate mother and feel hopeless all the time. When you partner is suffering with PND she will require professional help as well as a strong commitment from yourself.
Never be too hasty to presume that your wife is suffering from postnatal depression; after childbirth it is only normal that she will be suffering from at least one of the aforementioned symptoms. However, PND will not always develop straight after birth, and in many circumstances it will not develop until well into the first year post partum.
Causes of PND
There is no one reason why a woman will suffer from post natal depression, and not all women will show the same symptoms. A woman who already has a child and showed no signs of depression may develop PND on giving birth for the second time and vice versa. There are no rules that define who should develop post natal depression and when, although women who have suffered from depression during pregnancy are more likely to develop PND. Other common causes will be a traumatic birth, difficulty in bonding with your child, or outside influences such as financial worries or the lack of a family network for support.
How to get help for your partner when she is suffering from PND
If you suspect that your partner is suffering from post natal depression, it is vital that you see your health visitor or family doctor. Mild cases may be treated with self help strategies, but one of the most important things to remember is that is you want your partner to get better, that you should be as supportive as possible at all times. Try and understand your partner and how she is feeling, and never get angry with her or blame her.
Living with a partner who is suffering from PND will be extremely difficult at times, but with help and perseverance she will get better. Help as much as you can with night feeds, diaper changes, and the everyday running of the household. Never judge her parenting skills and never scorn her for not keeping a tidy home. Where at all possible, make sure she is not left alone, and encourage family and friends to visit as often as possible.
In the case that she has been prescribed medication for her PND, encourage her to take her medication and remain positive about her future. Interacting with other new mums is essential, especially those that are also suffering from depression. In short, put your own needs and also your sexual desires to one side, and focus on your partner and your new baby and be encouraging and positive every step of the way.
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