In my last blog post I wrote about how to be patient and understanding with your wife postpartum recovery. Specifically, I talked about the physical recovery from vaginal deliveries and C-sections. In addition to this, as a new father I was surprised with the mental and emotional recovery/adjustment that my wife went through postpartum. Emotionally, there are mood swings and postpartum depression.
Your wife will be an emotional mess. Giving birth, the adjustments to motherhood, and the hormonal ups and downs of postpartum will put your wife in a moody state (maternity blues). I learned all this is normal, which was a surprise to me. Knowing this helps with being more patient and understanding. Your wife will cry about nursing the baby whether its a success or not. If she’s not crying she may be happy, angry, frustrated, or feeling guilty.When she’s not feeling the above emotions, she’ll be tired. Be patient and understanding by not taking all this personal. Remember that she is hormonal and not necessarily angry with you. She’s trying to learn how to be a mother. Make a strong effort to help, to listen, and give her space when she needs it. Eventually, your wife will start to be her regular emotional self again, but in the mean time just let her cry and feel whatever emotion she is feeling.
Postpartum depression is not mood swings or your wife being hormonal. It is clinical depression that is related to pregnancy and childbirth. 1 in 7 moms will get postpartum depression after child birth. As a new father it’s important for you to recognize the symptoms of postpartum depression so you can suggest that your wife seek a diagnosis and treatment from a doctor. The following symptoms are associated with postpartum depression:
- Sadness, loss of hope, despair.
- Feeling unable to care for the baby or do basic chores.
- Crying a lot, sometimes for no real reason.
- Trouble feeling close to the baby.
- Less interest in food, sex, self-care, and other things she used to enjoy.
- Too much sleep.
- Trouble with focus, learning, or memory.
In many cases , women who are most likely to get postpartum depression are women who are confronted with stress and problems. Such as, she may not have wanted to get pregnant, or family members are unwilling to help with caring for the baby. Also, money issues, drug and alcohol abuse, or other sources of stress have been correlated with postpartum depression.
It’s also worth mentioning postpartum psychosis. This is a rare thing for a new mother to experience. The first time I ever heard about it was in the hospital. My wife’s doctor mentioned that it is important for a new father to be aware of this since a new mother may not be able to get help on her own. Symptoms vary and can change quickly. The symptoms of postpartum psychosis are:
- High mood
- Racing thoughts
- Severe confussion
- Losing inhibitions
Fathers who see these symptoms should seek immediate help from medical professionals. There are two reason for this. If your wife is in this state then it is likely that the baby is not being properly cared for and that puts the baby at risk. The second reason is your wife’s well being. In most cases of Postpartum Psychosis women are admitted to a hospital for treatment.
Do All You Can To Help
As mentioned before in my previous post my wife said the most helpful things a new father can do for a new mother is to be patient, understanding, and to help with the baby so mom can rest. Patience and understanding come a lot easier for a new father when he knows about mood swings in a new mother, postpartum depression, and the rare occurrence of postpartum psychosis. In addition to knowing these things a new father should look for every opportunity to allow his wife to rest. This may including changing diapers, bottle feeding the baby, and just watching after the baby while mom sleeps.