Support for you

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[Adapted from ‘How is Dad going’] http://www.howisdadgoing.org.au/how-is-your-partner]  

If you are the partner of a woman experiencing postpartum depression, there’s a good chance it’s going to take a toll on you and your relationship with her. Taking care of a young family with a partner who isn’t fully functioning is hard, especially if you are working full-time as well.

“Maybe you can hide an emotion by being happy—or pretending to be happy—but you cannot hide that it take you two days to do something that should take you a day.”~New dad, on how the stress of fatherhood and his wife’s PPD/A affected his performance at work

Here are some of the challenges you may be facing:

  • There may be more conflict in your relationship; it may seem as though your partner is deliberately starting fights with you.
  • You feel like you’re being pulled apart by your demands at work and your demands at home.
  • Your partner may ask your advice constantly, but then dismiss what you say.
  • Your partner may not want to leave you alone with the baby or criticize how you are providing care for your child.
  • She may be very needy, calling you at work constantly or waiting for you with demands when you walk in the door.
  • She may not want to have sex, or recoils from physical contact with you.
  • She may be blaming you for how she feels

Remember that these difficulties are temporary! The road to recovery can be  long, but slowly things will get better.

“Sometimes I would take the later bus home from work, just to have an extra half hour. I needed time to relax because I’d think ‘I haven’t done anything, but I’m going to get yelled at’.”

In the meantime, you need to look after yourself. It is estimated that 25–50% of men in a relationship with a woman who has postpartum depression and anxiety will themselves develop postpartum depression. (There are no statistics available for women in a same-sex relationship or for family members involved in the care of a child with a mother with PPD/A , but the rates are likely similar.) It is very important that you look after yourself as well as your partner. The best thing you can do for your relationship and your children is to take care of yourself and to make sure your partner is well taken care of.

“I had a friend at work, whose wife went through postpartum, so I did find that sometime when you start talking at work, it was helpful.”

Here are some tips on how to minimize the effect of your partner’s PPD/A on you:

  • It’s easy to burn out. The road to recovery is not a sprint; it’s a marathon, so pace yourself. Doing too much all at once isn’t good for anyone in the long run.
  • Devote time to a hobby. Find something you love and take at least a few minutes every day to enjoy it, making sure that there are supports in place so your partner is not pushed beyond his or her limit. Making a plan together for self-care can also help.
  • Develop your own support system of people whom you can talk or vent to. Find a sympathetic family member, friend, or coworker who has gone through a similar experience.
  • Try not to take your partner’s lack of interest in sex personally. Depression often causes low sex drive. Also, her body may still be recovering from birth, she may be facing self-image issues, and/or she may be exhausted from the constant physical presence of the baby.

There may be many ways in which your partner’s PPD/A affects you. We know it’s difficult. If you are struggling as a result of her illness, give us a call. We offer telephone support for partners, as well as partner and couples information sessions. Call the support line at 604.255.7999 or toll-free 855.255.7999 at for details.

Videos:

Pablo: Feeling judged
Pablo discusses he felt judged by those he worked with when he and his partner were struggling during the postpartum period. To view video with written transcript, click here.


Pablo: Self-care
Pablo discusses why it is essential to take care of yourself in order to support others. To view video with written transcript, click here.

Brianna: Anger and PTSD

Brianna discusses the intense anger she felt as a result of postpartum PTSD, and the affect that anger had on her relationships. Although Brianna had PTSD, anger is a very common symptom of PPD/A as well. To view video with written transcript, click here.