What is Postpartum Depression, and How Can You be There for Your Partner?

Carrying and delivering a baby causes a slew of hormonal changes in a woman’s body. At the very least, many new moms experience “baby blues” after giving birth, which may cause mood swings, anxiety, crying, and difficulty sleeping. Baby blues typically last no longer than two weeks.

Postpartum depression (PPD) is far more severe. This lingering mental condition is not a sign of weakness—it’s simply a complication of childbirth. If your partner experiences PPD, learn how you can be there for her during this difficult and emotional time.

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

PPD may be mistaken for baby blues at first, but the symptoms are more debilitating and may last months if left untreated. The signs of postpartum depression include:

  • Depressed mood or severe mood swings
  • Excessive crying
  • Difficulty bonding with the baby
  • Withdrawing from social outings
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Low energy levels
  • Unwarranted irritability or anger
  • Fear of being a bad mother
  • Feelings of guilt, shame, or worthlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Thoughts of self-harm or hurting the baby
  • Suicidal ideation

PPD in New Fathers

Between 2 and 20 percent of new dads experience postpartum depression as well, a condition known as paternal postpartum depression. Men with relationship issues, financial instability, a history of depression, or a partner with PPD are most at risk. If you’re a new father experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, talk to a healthcare professional.

How You Can be There for Your Partner

While postpartum depression is a mental illness that often requires medical treatment, you can do many practical things to help your partner recover. Here’s what we recommend:

  • Help around the house.
  • Prepare healthy meals.
  • Reassure your partner that she’s a good mother.
  • Tell her you’re proud of how hard she’s working, even though she feels terrible.
  • Make yourself available by taking paternity leave or reducing your hours at work.
  • Limit your time with extended family and friends.
  • Answer her phone and take a message.
  • Go with her to doctor’s appointments.
  • Play the role of “listener” when she wants to talk about her feelings and struggles.
  • Help her get more rest by dividing up nighttime parenting and letting her sleep in.
  • Watch the baby so she can pursue a hobby or go out with a friend.
  • Seek help from trusted adult friends and medical professionals so you don’t have to go it alone.

Even though you know postpartum depression and other complications are always possible, you may have made up your mind about becoming a parent. If you previously had a vasectomy, the first step is to have a vasectomy reversal. Dr. Joshua Green of the Center for Vasectomy Reversal is a leader in helping men become fathers. To learn more about having your vasectomy reversed, please contact our Sarasota, FL clinic at 941-894-6428 or schedule a free consultation online.