New Parents: Dealing with Postnatal & Postpartum Depression
Excitement, lack of sleep and perhaps experiencing some of the baby blues. New families should focus on supporting the mental wellness of their new and expanding family!
Making the transition into parenting is like nothing you've done before
Perhaps you took care of your siblings or cousins growing up, or have many friends that have already had children. But, no matter how much you mentally prepare, and no matter how many baby products you buy and books you read, you can not be fully prepared for parenting—it's a completely new adventure! Every child that comes into this world is unique and will have their unique tendencies. Some babies will sleep through the night, some will not. Some will take easily to breastfeeding, some will not.
While you cannot fully control what your child will be like, being aware of the new stresses that will come up with being a new parent and understanding how stress, lack of sleep and hormonal changes can impact both the new mother and father, can help you prepare!
Be nice to each other, and to yourself!
It may be quite obvious that once your baby is born there will be increased demands on your time. Relationship counselors note that most couples experience some sort of new strains on their relationship after becoming new parents.
"The best recommendation I can give to new parents is to be patient and not make assumptions about your partner's behavior."
You will be tested as a couple, and individually, as new parents. This is a good time (or even before the birth of your child) to structure new ways of communicating with each other. New parents can benefit from formalizing and scheduling sharing sessions where one, two, even three times a week they dedicate some time to discuss how they are feeling and if they are struggling with anything in particular. This is a healthy way to get your feelings out in the open before they bubble up and manifest in an argument!
Feeling sad, lonely, and even isolated at this time is normal
The ups in life are paired with the downs. While feeling the "baby blues" is normal for both mothers and fathers at this time, be aware of the symptoms and potential serious implications of postnatal depression, a type of depression experienced after the birth of the a child.
The symptoms of postpartum depression are similar to medical depression, and often, especially in strained new parents, go unnoticed. Over half of mothers who suffer with depression after birth with Postpartum Depression (PPD), also known as Postnatal Depression (PND), do not seek medical help for the condition, according to recent statistics from the UK's Charity 4 Children.
Ian Disley, an expert in postnatal depression notes that for women, the onset of PPD "usually begins two-to-eight weeks after delivery, and the duration of PPD will depend on the severity of the case, and whether the mother seeks help. Sometimes the symptoms of baby blues do not go away or can appear some time after the birth of the baby."
Dealing with postnatal depression is difficult, if you have these symptoms you may want to talk with an expert:
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of enjoyment
- See more symptoms in this article
Baby blues symptoms in men
- Lack of hobbies or interests in activities and family life
- Lack of interest in sex
- Aggression, irritability, a short fuse or quick temper, and potentially violent behavior
- Excessive sleeping or difficulty sleeping, prolonged tiredness
- Lack of energy and motivation
- Increased risky behavior, such as the abuse of alcohol and drugs
- Poor or little self-esteem and being self-critical
- Avoidance of social activities
- Limited focus and concentration levels
- See more symptoms in this article
Postpartum depression therapy for men and women
Depression must be formally diagnosed by a doctor or certified expert, and the treatment plan (if you do not seek self-treatment at this time) should also be formalized by a qualified professional. If your "feeling down" feels manageable at this time, you can take steps to attempt to self-manage the situation at this time, including:
- Speak to your loved ones and friends about how you are feeling. Social support at this time can lightened the emotional load of how you are feeling at this time.
- Fitness & physical activities. Although you will likely be strained for time right now, there are at home exercises that do not require equipment that you can try, or simply taking the new baby with you and going on a walk.
- Meditation, mindfulness, breathing and other relaxation practices. If you do not know how to get started, there are many free tutorials available online.
- Seeking professional help. If you are simply too busy to visit a therapist face-to-face for counseling, you can save yourself time by trying out online therapy where you speak to your therapist remotely from any location, including your home or office.
- See more tips on anxiety management here.
See this article on how else you can support someone with postpartum depression. And congratulations on your journey as a new parents.