Partners and mental health

It can be hard watching your partner struggle or coping with the revelation that they have been finding it hard to cope for a while  Look at these tips for how you can support her.

  • Before birth help your wife through any negative emotions as they can change the way she sees her pregnancy
  • Remind her how strong she is, how brave, how wonderful, how proud you are of her, that you love her
  • Look after yourself too – she will be relying on you but if you are falling apart then you can’t be an effective caregiver.
  • Everyone will have an opinion about your life now – she doesn’t need to hear them all so make sure you shield her from ones that you know will undermine her confidence.
  • Show her that you support any decisions made in labour and that you are a team together – your praise is the one she will want to hear.
  • Be supportive – a recent study from Stanford Institute of Economic Policy Research found a 26% decrease in the rates of PPD requiring medication where the wife is supported by the husband
  • Encourage her to rest
  • Give her a massage or foot rub – ten minutes loving touch a day promotes the release of oxytocin the love hormone
  • Take the baby so she can have a break.  Learn how to swaddle the baby, change nappies, the bedtime routine etc
  • Make sure she is eating
  • Do not expect her to ‘snap out of it.’
  • Be aware that she may not know she has it
  • Be patient
  • Remind her that depression is not her fault
  • Look out for the signs as you may spot them long before she does – encourage her with words of support as for many mums with PPD their biggest fear is that it is a weakness and they will be seen as being incapable of taking care of their children and will eventually lose them.  
  • If she is sick with PPD then she may not want to get help.  You may have to be very proactive if this is the case – talk to her doctor, friends, family to find out the best way to support you all.
  • Don’t problem solve.  Many women just want to talk and get their feeling out and verbalised.  They don’t need a solution – they just want a validation that they are understood, that can be the biggest and best thing you can do to help.

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But what if you are finding life hard after the baby arrives? First time dads are particularly vulnerable with symptoms ‘peaking,’ between three to six months after the baby has been born. Financial burden and loss of intimacy with a partner as well as the new sense of responsibility can all impact his mental health. Hormones can play a part too.

Symptoms can include:- 

  • fear, confusion, helplessness and uncertainty about the future
  • withdrawal from family life, work and social situations
  • indecisiveness
  • frustration, irritability, cynicism and anger
  • marital conflict
  • partner violence
  • anxiety
  • negative parenting behaviours
  • alcohol and drug use
  • insomnia
  • physical symptoms like indigestion, changes in appetite and weight, diarrhoea, constipation, headaches, toothaches and nausea.

All of which can have a negative impact on their relationship with the child and the mother, as well as cause developmental delays in their child.  This is why it is so critical to get help.  If you or your partner is struggling then please contact me for help.

Websites for help are:

http://www.reachingoutpmh.co.uk

http://www.fatherhoodinstitute.org