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Husbands Survival Guide To Postpartum Depression

Updated on February 21, 2013
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I'm a dad, husband, and Christian first. The rest is just life's add-ons: an educator, administrator, learning & development professional.

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Can you imagine 80% of women experience depression after giving birth? As a new dad, husbands must see the signs of postpartum depression. This way you won’t entertain any idea of committing your wife to an asylum. There are several degrees of this depression. So prepare yourself for an encore of emotional roller coaster after childbirth.

You think everything will return to normal after childbirth. That’s a huge NO.

The normal still seems creepy

I have no firsthand experience with childbirth (thank goodness), but childbirth is difficult. You’d agree that having a child go through your birth canal is no easy feat. Your wife will be physically uncomfortable. Since my wife is part ninja, she was already up and walking around in no time.

Your wife’s pain stems from a variety of sources. First, childbirth is physically demanding. Second, your wife will still have uterine contractions. Third, stitches (if any) can be quite annoying. Also, breastfeeding can be painful.

Your wife can fully recover within a few weeks to 3 months. Having Wolverine’s genes would be a nice thing to have at this point. But don’t try dumping toxic waste on your wife in the hopes of mutating her genes. To my knowledge it’s still illegal.

Also, lack of sleep can be taxing. In some cases, intermittent sleep causes exhaustion, diminished level of concentration and even memory loss.

In addition, her focus is not the baby. So expect to be neglected. Can you imagine yourself at the beck and call of your baby? Well, mommies are like that. She may fail to shower, eat, brush, or put on her really, really sexy clothes for you. So as early as now, I’m warning you about the potential indifference. Moms need lots of willpower just to survive the first few days.

Pregnancy and childbirth are physically demanding. The strain of carrying a child and giving birth depletes her vitamins and minerals. A whacked hormone level can complicate things. Estrogen and progesterone are hormones that have been depleted. On the other hand, hormones associated with breastfeeding increases. Thus, more than physical stresses, emotional changes are bound to happen even after childbirth.

That’s a lot of changes and adjustments – and this is the normal state of things!

Husband’s postpartum duties

First, pick up the slack. Don’t snap at your wife for not doing the dishes or cooking breakfast. It’s time you pull some weight in the house. If you followed the husbands' survival guide to pregnancy then you already know these stuff.

Next, don’t expect physical intimacy like before. Seduction will get you nowhere! Intimacy is more than the yes-yes-oh-god-yes kind of way. Be creative with postpartum intimacy strategies.

Also, give her space. Allow her to focus on your child. Moreover, you have to face reality that you are the third wheel!

Moreover, you may need to limit visitors just to give your wife and baby enough rest. If everyone hates you for doing this, just keep in mind that you have your wife and baby’s best interest in mind.

My daughter Yna when she was just a few days old
My daughter Yna when she was just a few days old | Source

The Baby Blues Syndrome

This is riddled with depression and crying. In between these bouts of emotional upheavals are calm moments. The serene and mind-boggling episodes are brought about by your wife’s ability (or inability) to handle the hormonal changes. So no, your wife is not going crazy. Don’t padlock your kitchen knives just yet.

The baby blues stage lasts about 2 or 3 weeks after childbirth. Based on a University of Aberdeen study, moms with severe baby blues have a 25% chance of getting postpartum depression on succeeding childbirths. So husbands; step in ASAP.

Husband’s postpartum duties

First, make sure that your wife gets lots of rest. Just make sure that she does not have to worry about other thing except herself and the baby.

Second, take your wife and baby out for a walk. A new environment and scenery will do wonders for them. I usually took my wife to see her relatives, friends or went to the park.

Third, help with the baby tasks. Learn how to change diapers, give babies a bath, clean bottles and other baby-related tasks. This gives your wife additional time to rest.

Fourth, surprise your wife. Don’t wear a Scream mask and hold a knife in front of her! Not that kind of surprise. Whether it’s a special meal or a special gift, show that she’s special. There are many gift ideas for a new mom out there. So use your creativity and go out of your way to get it.

Postpartum Stress Syndrome

The next level of emotional disturbance is the postpartum stress syndrome. If the baby blues goes beyond 3 weeks, it’s considered postpartum stress syndrome. Up to 20% of women with baby blues syndrome move to this level. That’s a scary thought, I know.

Your wife constantly feels depressed. Thus, the emotional distress affects your wife’s daily life.

Moreover, moms with postpartum stress syndrome develop anxiety and self-doubt. The pressure of being a perfect mom is tremendous.

Just a huge warning for dads: your wife may not show distress at all! Likewise, they may not show the signs of exhaustion and anxiety. However, if this is left unchecked, this can escalate to clinical depression.

Husbands’ postpartum duties

First and foremost, be their primary support system. Since moms may conceal how they really feel, it’s up to you to keep them in good spirits.

Second, be her personal Dr. Phil. Although many men hate the mushy and emotional stuff, it’s the least you can do. Talk to your wife. Also, encourage her and let her know that you are there. So sacrifice a couple days without the TV and just be with your wife.

Third, reduce the daily hassles and stresses. Let her concentrate on the baby and more importantly herself. Do the chores (this is getting to be the theme of daddyhood).

Fourth, put her in the limelight. It’s never too early (or too late) to compliment your wife. Buy her new stuff. Shower her with gifts. The bottom line is to make your wife feel special – because she is.

Fifth, assure her that she’s doing a great job. Apart from the material things that you can give her, your sincere words of encouragement can do more wonders (plus it’s cheaper).

Lastly, help her become better. If your wife is like mine, she’s probably searching Google for the latest info on motherhood. Help her find interesting information; give her DVD’s; invite friends with the same experiences; buy books or print information from reputable sites. Feed her mind and her spirit with all things positive.

My wife Grace and daughter Yna
My wife Grace and daughter Yna

Postpartum Depression - PPD

What’s scary about postpartum depression (PPD) is that it can strike without warning. In fact, there are many cases where everything works out well. Then from nowhere, postpartum depression strikes.

Although its onset is anywhere from 3 months to six months after childbirth, it can happen any time within a year. Up to 15% of moms experience PPD.

Signs of PPD include crying, intense sadness and anger, irritability, sleep disturbances, reduced sexual desires, anxiety, weight gain or even weight loss.

Diagnosis of PPD becomes more complicated as it can be associated with other psychological disorders like OCD and panic disorder.

Husband’s postpartum duties

First, talk to your wife. Talk therapy is a good start when it comes to PPD. Having someone to unload the emotional burden can do wonders.

Second, build an environment full of trust. Women with PPD are very emotionally stressed. Thus, it’s up to you to create a home that is nurturing.

Sometimes medications for postpartum depression are prescribed. Make sure she takes them. Also, you may want to look into alternative remedies for postpartum depression. But always consult a professional before you venture into alternative remedies.

Next, provide a good diet for your wife. Health and nutrition are important whether your wife has PPD or not. Women with PPD need more nutrients in their bodies. Furthermore, pick foods that she likes. Remember that you’re feeding her not just for nutrition; you want her to feel better.

Be an instrument of positive change

Your role as husband will change once your wife gives birth. Apart from being a new dad, you have to realize that you are the primary support system of your wife. Rearing a newborn is demanding. Thus, your wife needs all the support that you can give. This becomes even more important when she experiences depression.

It is true that how one reacts to the hormonal changes and the stresses vary. It can be as subtle as getting tired to full blown clinical depression. But it becomes easier to bear when husbands assume an active role.

Keep in mind that dads have two wonderful blessings - a baby and a wife. So make the extra effort to look after both.

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    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      I have read of horrible things mothers can do when suffering from Postpartum Depression. Thank goodness, even after having four children, I never got this. It really is a problem for some families.

      You gave some good advice here. Voted UP, etc.

    • jpcmc profile image
      Author

      JP Carlos 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Nice to see you again mary615 :)

      Me too, I've read news about mom doing really horrid things. I believe that husbands should play an active role especially after his wife gives birth. The little things matter.

    • barbat79 profile image

      B A Tobin 4 years ago from Connnecticut

      Oh this is a wonderful piece especially because it was written by a DAD.

      I loved your description of your wife as a Ninja...please tell her I am part Ninja as well. LOL thumbs up! Thank you for this one!

    • jpcmc profile image
      Author

      JP Carlos 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hello barbat79,

      Thank you for the kind words. I will tell my wife that I found another ninja in hubpages :) Pregnancy and what comes after can really put stress on the mom. I believe that dads need to take a more active role.

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