What can my friends or family do to help?
This section is for friends or family who wish to support someone they know who has postnatal depression.
Studies suggest that new mothers who experience postnatal depression find support from partners, family and friends helpful.
It may be difficult, upsetting and frustrating to live with someone who has PND, but it is important not to blame them for how they are feeling. A mother who is experiencing PND may be reluctant to ask for help out of fear that she might be labelled as mad, and that it will result in the baby being taken away from her. It can therefore be helpful if you reassure her that many women experience PND, and that she is not going mad and that she will get better.
If you are prepared to talk about what is going on, this can help make the problem visible – and less threatening – and can be a vital first step towards resolving it.
If you learn about PND, you may feel better able to understand what she is going through and how best to help.
You could also offer to go with her to the doctor. This can make her feel safe, and it will be easier afterwards when there are two of you to remember what was said and what advice was given.
Offer practical support
The best way to find out what the mother needs is to ask them. However, if they feel very low, they might find it difficult to make suggestions. You could then suggest various things you are willing to do.
Practical support can include:
- Doing shopping, cleaning and other jobs that need to be done
- Cooking and providing healthy food
- Looking after the baby (so they can sleep, have a bath, exercise etc.)
- Spending time with them together so she does not have to be alone all the time
If necessary, you could offer to check out what options for help are available in your area.