Tips for New Parents: 7 Ways to Support Each Other Through Postnatal Depression
To say that having a baby changes your life is quite the understatement. Whether you’re a first-time parent or already have 3 little (or big) ones, having a child can suddenly mean that life isn’t how it was 9 months ago and coping with these changes isn’t always easy.
Postnatal depression (PND) affects 15-20% of mothers within the first year of their baby’s life, and contrary to popular belief, it’s not only the mother that can be affected by postnatal depression. It also affects around 10% of fathers, with 38% of first-time fathers reportedly worrying about mental health after the new addition to the family.
While there are no magic fixes, here are a few ways that you can support and help each other through postnatal depression.
#1 Let’s talk about it
Sometimes, saying it out loud can make the world of difference, particularly when somebody listens. Open up an honest dialogue with each other and communicate how you are feeling and you’ll find there are more similarities than you’d think. As new parents, you are navigating this journey together and through listening to and understanding how each other feels, you’ll better support the other’s needs.
#2 Tackle time management together
With your new arrival taking up so much of your time, find ways to manage and prioritise your to-do list together. Split your tasks between you and be mindful of how each task affects the individual’s time. Sleep might feel like a distant memory and if one of you is feeling particularly sleep deprived, support them and take on the night feed, allowing your partner a spot of well-earned rest. Or if night feeds are difficult due to breastfeeding, perhaps give your partner some time to rest during the day.
With our online course, you can learn to manage your time using 3 categories – Routine, Necessary and Pleasurable. This simple technique based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can help you prioritise your tasks and feel more in control of your time.
#3 Don’t try to be Super Man or Super Mum
There is no such thing as the perfect parent, but the pressures of social media showing us images of happy parents seemingly coping perfectly can make us think otherwise. As they say, a baby doesn’t come with instructions and as a parent you are constantly learning. You are not expected to be perfect, you are not expected to know everything and you are not expected to be okay all the time. If you can manage your expectations of yourself and of your partner, the pressure to be perfect can ease a little.
#4 Remember: It’s okay not to be okay
A big step in tackling postnatal depression, is to understand the symptoms and how they affect individuals. PND affects everybody differently, from low mood and excessive anxiety about your child’s wellbeing, to the complete opposite – losing all motivation or even interest in the baby. Try to understand how PND is affecting you or your partner and remember that these symptoms are treatable and most importantly, neither of you are alone in this.
#5 Surround yourselves with support
From friends and family to local groups, there are plenty of support options and opportunities to talk to others who will understand. Why not join parent and baby groups, such as baby massage, baby sensory and many more, where you can meet other parents. Alternatively, Alternatively, your health visitor, GP, local council or NHS provider’s website will all be able to direct you to other local support groups - such as these in Essex and Southend - that you may find helpful.
Surround yourself with people who understand, who you can talk to or spend time with and remember that you don’t have to face PND alone.
#6 It’s the little things that count Those little day-to-day gestures, like making them a cup of tea, can help brighten your partner’s mood or simply show that you are there for them. Perhaps you’re at work and your partner is home with the little one, why not send them a quick text or that cat video you know they’ll love. It may seem small, but the smile you put on their face can make a noticeable difference.
#7 Just the two of you For new parents in particular, the arrival of your little one sparks a change in your relationship dynamic as two become three. But making the effort to spend time together as a couple can help reinforce a strong partnership. Have a ‘date night’ once a month, or spend some time watching your favourite TV shows together. Also, put aside some family time as you get to know the new addition to your lives.
Postnatal depression has no quick fix, but it is treatable. We know that as a new parent, you may not have time to visit a therapist, so we created a free-to-access online course that you can follow at your own pace and at a time and place that suits you. Sign up today and learn techniques to help manage your symptoms.
Therapy for You provides a range of counselling and therapy services, from psychoeducation to group and 1-1 therapies, throughout South Essex. Including counselling in Southend, Basildon and other areas. If you’d like to know more about how we can help you, get in touch today.