Postpartum Couples: How to Cope with Depression
The arrival of a newborn baby after marriage is a joyous moment. A baby brings laughter, happiness, and innocence in the lives of his/her mom and dad. But along with these things, the arrival of a new child also brings challenges like lifestyle adjustments, role changes, and financial difficulties.
If you are a first-time parent, then you are more stressed about the preparations you need to do for the arrival of the newborn and the subsequent lifestyle changes that, as parents, you and your partner will have to make. If you are experienced parents, then managing the demands of your previous children while fulfilling the responsibilities towards your new child will pose to be a different kind of challenge. In either case, the birth of a child is a stressful experience.
The stress factor gets doubled when postpartum depression strikes. It is a wrong notion that postpartum depression affects only the mother. PPD affects the entire family and poses a significant threat to the health of relationships and marriage.
Most women go through an emotional turmoil within the first week after giving birth. They can feel exhausted, sad, anxious, etc. and all these symptoms are known as ‘baby blues.’ Baby blues are common and natural. Some symptoms of baby blues overlap with that of postpartum depression. But postpartum depression is more severe.
It can last for weeks and can even raise suicidal thoughts in the minds of the mothers. Couples tend to brush off the symptoms of PPD assuming it to be baby blues. But, if PPD is ignored, it can prove highly detrimental for the person suffering from it as well as for the relationship. When a mother suffers from PPD, it affects her partner too. As she struggles with depression, similarly, her partner suffers from isolation.
The postpartum period can be a depressing time for a couple and create conflicts in their relationship thereby pulling the two partners away from each other. At a time when depression is at its peak, you may think that it is impossible to put in efforts to revive your relationship and save your marriage. However, you can surely cope with the depressing time together as a couple if you follow the below-mentioned tips:
Effects Of Postpartum Depression on Marriage
1. Carve out Quality Time to Spend Together
Time management becomes a difficult task after the birth of a baby. Both the parents become so engrossed in activities surrounding the child that they don’t get enough time to spend with each other. Most of your time is spent in feeding babies, changing diapers, consoling them and playing with them. By the time you get a little time to spend with your partner, you feel completely exhausted.
Rather than spending the time with your partner, you prefer utilizing it for catching up on sleep. This routine, when practiced for a long time, can lead to isolation due to lack of communication. It is essential that even amidst your busy schedule; the two of you spend a little bit of time with each other. Even a small talk for a few minutes can be helpful.
Time management will become better once your child starts to grow up. But till then, you need to carve out quality time to spend with your partner and not make them feel neglected.
2. Communicate Clearly
Many couples, especially women, expect their partners to read their minds. Such expectations will ultimately result in disappointments and can lead you to sink to the bottom of the well of depression. To survive the postnatal depression period, it is important to give more emphasis on clear communications between the two partners.
Do not assume that your partner knows all about your feelings and your needs. Express your emotions. Pouring your heart out to your partner will make you feel lighter. When you have a heart-to-heart talk with your partner, you also get to know about your partner’s feelings. Clarity in communication will help both of you in tackling problems together.
3. Don’t Play the Blame Game
Postpartum depression is no one’s fault. It can happen to anyone and is curable. Women often blame themselves for the condition. They feel that they are unable to come out of the depression due to their lack of willpower.
Men may urge their wives to ‘snap out of the depressing zone.’ But such comments and lack of empathy can deteriorate the condition instead. What women and their partners need to realize is postnatal depression is an illness and not a reflection of someone as a mother or as a woman. It can be cured only by creating a favorable environment for the mother and the child.
4. Regain Physical Intimacy
During pregnancy and after the birth of a baby, a woman goes through many hormonal as well as physical changes. Many couples observe abstinence during this time. Even after childbirth, a woman may feel a lack of sexual desire owing to factors like breastfeeding, post-pregnancy health issues, etc.
However, prolonged abstinence can create different problems for men. They may feel betrayed and neglected when their wives refuse to cater to their emotional and physical needs. Loss of sexual intimacy can increase the conflicts in the relationship as well.
To overcome this problem, it is important to talk about your feelings with your partner. A little bit of physical intimacy can also be regained in the form of cuddling or holding hands. This will ensure that your partner does not feel left out.
5. Keep a Tab on Expenses
When a child enters the picture, the expenses are bound to increase. Mothers are often busy taking care of the child and hence, all the financial management responsibilities fall on the shoulders of the father.
The father may feel burdened by the increasing expenses and find it tough to make wise financial decisions. Financial woes can even cause depression in fathers. To prevent financial problems from taking a toll on your relationship, you must co-operate with your partner and find out ways to save money.
6. Take Care of Yourself
Taking care of yourself is the most powerful way to begin taking care of others. You and your partner need each other, and your babies need both of you. For overcoming the monster known as postpartum depression, you have to work as a family.
If you and your partner are unable to tackle the illness properly, seek professional help. Seeking help from a professional therapist can make you feel more confident. The only thing to keep in mind ‘This too Shall Pass’.