Most new mothers get a bit (or a lot) weepy on about the third or fourth day after giving birth. This is called the baby blues. Here’s what you need know:
You can’t fix it.
Don’t ask her why she’s crying.
Try not to make it worse
Overtired and Overwhelmed
New motherhood is an emotional experience, and looking after a new baby is a huge responsibility and a lot of work. Some days it goes well and other days are really hard. So sometimes new mothers cry because they are feeling overwhelmed.
What you can do:
- Be nice
- Encourage your partner to take a nap or go to bed early
- Encourage her to take a bath
- Look after the baby while she naps or baths.
- Limit visitors
- Feed her
- Do housework. There’s nothing worse for a new mom than working all day trying to care for a baby and then she looks around and see all kinds of undone housework. Do your part to keep things neat so she has one less thing to worry about.
- Ask her if she’d like you to call her Mom, sister or best friend to come over and keep her company. Sometimes moms want female company but they are too “proud” to ask.
- Don’t expect that all of the above strategies will necessarily make it better. Your goals should be to try to make it a little better and to definitely not make it worse.
Postpartum Depression. More than just baby blues.
While it is normal for all new mothers to be emotionally fragile and easily upset from time to time, unprovoked crying, emotional outbursts or irritability that lasts for more than two weeks, can be a sign of postpartum depression (PPD).
You certainly can’t make PPD better, but there are some things you can do. First of all, be supportive and helpful in all the ways previously mentioned.
Second, help her to get help.
Mothers with PDD need professional help and lots of support. They might need treatment or therapy. And many mothers with PPD have found it very helpful to talk to other moms who have gone through the same experience.
The Challenges for Fathers
It is often hard for mothers (hard for anybody, really) to understand or accept that they may have a mental health problem. You may be the first person to recognize her symptoms.
What do I do if I think my partner might have PPD?
Pay attention to how she seems to be feeling. If you think she might have PPD do some reading about it. Here’s a good website: www.postpartumdads.org/
Remember, most new moms have ups and downs. PPD is about a prolonged pattern, not a couple of bad days. And it’s not just sadness. Irritability is a symptom as well.
Pick a calm moment and talk to her about what you’ve noticed. Ask her if she thinks she might be dealing with PPD and suggest that perhaps she might want to talk to somebody about it. Don’t push it. She may need time to think about it.
You could also do some research to see if there is a PPD support group in your area. Many communities have them, and lots of women have found PPD support groups to be very helpful in their recovery.
If your partner definitely has PPD
Prepare yourself for a long recovery. There is no magic bullet for PPD. Women get over it but it takes time.
Look after yourself and get help if you need it, both for your partner’s sake and your own. Dealing with PPD is tough for fathers too.