Every mum experiences postpartum differently; this is the period after birth and is often referred to as the fourth trimester. During this time, a woman’s body experiences many changes. And, for some mums, it’s a time when emotions become blurry, and reality takes its toll. That’s why making sure Mum gets extra love and support from her family, friends, and healthcare providers is important.
Here’s what you need to know:
• 1 in 6 mums will experience postpartum depression, also known as postnatal depression.
• About 40% of women who experience postnatal depression begin experiencing symptoms during pregnancy.
• Look out for symptoms like loss of self-esteem and confidence, appetite and weight fluctuations, sleep difficulties irrespective of the baby’s sleep schedule, suicidal thoughts, and panic attacks.
• A low mood is common after giving birth. It’s commonly caused by excessive fatigue, which can trigger some of the above symptoms. Adequate rest can act as a preventative measure.
• Risk factors for postnatal depression include an assisted delivery which can result in incontinence, a lack of partner support, a history of intimate partner violence, being from a culturally and linguistically diverse population and low socioeconomic status.
Here’s how you can support someone postpartum:
1. Provide emotional support: New mums often experience a whirlwind of emotions after giving birth, and it’s important to be there for them with empathy and understanding. Be a listening ear and let her express her feelings without judgment. Encourage her to talk about her experiences, fears, and joys, and assure her that her feelings are perfectly normal. Let her know that you support her every step of the way throughout her postpartum journey.
2. Offer a helping hand: The demands of caring for a newborn can be overwhelming, leaving little time and energy for everyday tasks or self-care. You can make a significant difference in her life by offering practical assistance. Simple acts like preparing a meal, tidying up, or helping with baby care can help her to relax. Offering your help shows that you recognise her needs and are here for her, giving her some much-needed rest.
3. Encourage self-care: Self-care is crucial for a mother’s overall well-being. However, amidst the responsibilities of motherhood, she may neglect her own needs. Encourage her to prioritise self-care by taking breaks, resting when possible, and engaging in activities that bring her joy and rejuvenation. This could be as simple as enjoying a warm bath, reading a book, or pursuing a hobby she loves to maintain her mental and physical health.
4. Provide education and resources: The postpartum period can be uncertain, especially for first-time mothers. If she has questions about breastfeeding, baby care, or postpartum recovery, point her towards trustworthy books, websites, or healthcare providers who can provide the guidance she needs. This support can help alleviate some of the anxiety and confusion she may be experiencing.
5. Be patient and non-judgmental: Adjusting to motherhood is a significant life transition, and it’s normal for mums to feel overwhelmed or uncertain at times. It’s important to be patient and understanding during this adjustment period, offer support and reassurance, and remind her that she is doing her best. Creating a safe space for her to share her concerns and seek guidance will help her grow into her role as a mother.
Remember, a kind and gentle approach can make a world of difference in a mother’s life postpartum. By offering a listening ear, helping with daily tasks, and encouraging her to prioritise self-care, you provide the support she needs to navigate the challenges of postpartum depression. Sharing reliable information, recommending resources, and being a patient and non-judgmental friend or partner will empower her to grow stronger and more confident in her role as a mother. Your support and understanding can help her navigate the challenges of postpartum depression and emerge a stronger and more confident mum.
If you, or someone you know needs support, call one of these numbers:
13 11 14 – Lifeline Australia – (24/7)
1300 726 306 – PANDA [Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia] National Helpline (Mon to Fri, 9am- 7.30pm AEST)