As beautiful as motherhood is, the initial months can be extremely demanding. It is not uncommon for new mothers to undergo postpartum depression, rather, one in every five woman are believed to suffer from this situation. Your help as a husband is crucial at this time. Research proves that a woman’s depression will drastically improve with the constant support of her better half.
It is important to know that what your wife is going through is not her fault and it is something beyond her control. The cause maybe a combination of hormones, environment, genes and lack of sleep. While you cannot change all of it, you can certainly can make a difference in some of the aspects.
Some symptoms to watch out for in your wife:
- Being anxious and stressed all the time
- Feeling overwhelmed, fatigued and insecure
- Bouts of crying and gloominess.
- Repetitive fears and worries
- Feeling angry and irritable
What you can do
Here is what you can do to make things better…
Take the load off her–Fatigue can drastically worsen the symptoms of the depression. You can really help your wife by taking some of the workload off her. Arrange for a cook or if you can, cook when possible (it does not have to be anything fancy, just simple and healthy food). You can also assist in other household chores like drying the clothes and folding them. By giving her that time and rest, she will be able to tend to herself and recover faster.
Let her sleep more– It is a known fact that lack of sleep alleviates to depression. As per studies conducted at the University of Pennsylvania, candidates who slept for 4.5 hours landed up feeling more agitated, angry and sad. This changed when they resumed to normal sleep patterns.
Maybe if the baby wakes up in the night, you can try to comfort him/her to sleep. Or during the daytime and evening, you can let your wife sleep for some time while you take care of the little one.You need your rest too to be charged for the next day, so you can work around a schedule where both can get adequate sleep. Madhu G, IT Professional says,”I’m more of a morning person whereas my husband sleeps late at night. So if my baby was restless in the mornings, I would take care of her, whereas in the nights my husband would. In this manner, both of us got a bit of sleep.”
Ensure that she is eating well and healthy–With pregnancy and feeding, the body loses a lot of nutrients that not only makes the mother weak but also impacts her mental and emotional health as well. On the other hand, having a well-balanced diet will have a positive effect and is beneficial for the baby too. Sumithra Murthy, Journalist says, “After delivery, I was having serious bouts of depression. When I went to the doctor and got my tests, I realised there was no B12 or vitamin D in my body, so she put me on a drip. You will be surprised as to how much better I felt once my nutrients were back!”
While your wife may be too preoccupied, you can ensure that she is eating a wholesome meal from time to time. If there is any supplement that she has to take, make sure that she does so by giving it to her when she needs to have it.
Set boundaries with friends and family – It is only natural that everybody would want to come and see the newborn baby. However, it is best to set certain boundaries with friends and family. Pick a time that would not disturb her sleep or rest, or tell them to come after some days when you know t hat your wife would be feeling better. Pavithra Rao, HR Professional says, “Post my C-section, my husband knew how important it was for me to recover my energy. So even if guests would come at home to see the baby, he would let me lie down while they saw the baby. He would make them understand that it is as per doctor’s orders. It was among the sweetest things that he has done for me.”
Encourage her to express what she is going through – Your wife is going through a range of emotions at this point in time. She lives in a state of fear and nervousness. Encourage her to express what she is going through. Do not treat her like a crazy person but empathise with what she is saying even if it seems irrational. Reassure her by talking to her.
Give her time to exercise – Exercise has time and again proven to help in overcoming depression. Soumya Reddy, Advertising Professional says, “Exercising really helped me deal with my post-partum depression. To be honest, it was only after I started going for walks did I begin to feel better about myself.”
The physical activity will offer your wife a change of atmosphere, get her back in shape and rejuvenate her. So once your wife gets a go-ahead from the doctor, work in a time slot where you can tend to the baby and she can go to the gym or outside to exercise.
Get her to counselling – If you feel that your wife is spiralling down into depression and that her insecurities and fears are getting the better of her, it is best to seek professional help. A therapist will ensure that she gets the proper treatment and heals fast.
Remember that this is a phase and your better half will get back to the way she used to be. With your support, the road to recovery will be quicker. It is will also foster and nurture your relationship as husband and wife.
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