Being a parent is…unique. Incredibly rewarding, but sometimes really, really tough. Parenthood can feel like a rollercoaster of emotions, and it’s okay to not love every minute of it. It’s also important to talk about how you’re feeling, and know when to get the help you deserve.
Researchers believe many women with postpartum depression go undiagnosed, so if you think you might have it–know you’re not alone, and it’s 100% not your fault.
More than just the “baby blues,” these intense feelings of sadness, anxiety, and tiredness can make it incredibly difficult for you to take care of yourself and your baby. The first person you might want to talk to is your partner, and that can feel really scary. Before we dive into a few tips for communicating with your partner, let’s talk about postpartum depression.
So, what exactly is postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression, also called PPD, is a type of perinatal depression involving the brain and affects your behaviors and physical health.
Depression doesn’t just have to happen after pregnancy and over half of women with postpartum depression noticed symptoms before or during pregnancy.
Common symptoms to look out for include:
- Extreme sadness
- Overwhelming fatigue
- Frequent mood swings or crying spells without warning
- Feeling disinterested in your baby or things you used to enjoy
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Inability to sleep or too much sleeping
- Eating too much or too little
- You don’t know why you feel disconnected or as joyful as you thought you’d feel
You may notice symptoms start a few weeks after delivery or even months later, coming every few days or so. They unfortunately don’t usually go away on their own, and require treatment from a medical professional.
How common is it?
Up to 80% of women feel some post-birth “baby blues” a few days after giving birth, but these feelings tend to last for a few days or weeks. If they don’t go away after a few weeks and make it harder for you to live your day-to-day life, it might be postpartum depression.
The majority of women experience the baby blues, but about 1 in 9 mothers have postpartum depression. By the time a child is 1 year old, it’s estimated over one-third of mothers will go through an episode of depression.
It’s important to talk to your doctor if you feel you’re at risk for developing postpartum depression or if you or your loved one is feeling depressed. There are treatment options (including pregnancy-safe ones!) your healthcare professional can talk with you about to help get you feeling like your normal self again.
We have some tips for talking openly with your partner, but it’s important to note everyone is different and talking with someone about your personal feelings is completely unique to you. Use these tips to help you decide what works best for you.
Tips for Talking Openly to Your Partner
Admit it to yourself first. The first step is always the hardest, but admitting to yourself that everything might not be okay can be incredibly freeing, and give you an open headspace to talk openly with your partner. Keeping such strong feelings inside and hoping they’ll go away only works for so long. Think about who you can talk to about your feelings that you trust.
Help them understand. Your partner doesn’t know what you’re going through, but there might be ways you can help them understand what you’re experiencing – so they can better support you. There’s many online resources or articles that can help describe what you’re going through to your partner. If you’re having trouble finding anything, try searching “what postpartum depression feels like” as a good start.
Ask them for help. Decide what support you need from this person and ask them to help keep you accountable. This could be doing yoga 3x a week, calling your doctor, walking everyday, or just looking into resources. Asking them to check in on your progress will help motivate you to keep up with your goals, or think about why you’re making these changes in the first place. You can tell them specifically how they could help you manage symptoms throughout the day if they seem unsure about best ways to support.
If you need to vent, ask them to let you. Being able to finally vent out all your pent up frustrations can be incredibly liberating, so if you feel like venting and letting it all out, let your partner know that you really need to vent but you don’t need them to offer any response or solutions.
If you think you have postpartum depression, you should talk to someone about how you’re feeling. You don’t have to suffer alone, and there are resources to help you cope. It’s not only important for you and your baby’s health, but also your partner’s health. The partner of a someone with postpartum depression has a 40% increased risk of having depression as well.
Don’t give up if talking to your partner doesn’t help. Try talking to another person you trust, like a best friend, or reach out to a health professional. and ask them for help. Remember: you should never feel ashamed to prioritize your mental health.
We’ve gathered some helpful resources if you or someone you know could use some guidance and support in their mental health journey.
Postpartum Support International – Help for Moms and Dads
FAQ about Postpartum Depression from the ACOG
Postpartum Depression Support Groups in U.S. and Canada
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Sevices Administration (SAMHSA): 1-800-662-4357
Looking for some other ways to help your mental health? Head on over to the Baby2Body app for relaxing breathing and mindfulness meditation exercises, or check out our delicious recipes packed with essential nutrients needed for a healthy body and brain.