Practical help from partners and friends
- Look after the babies, for example take them out for a walk in the buggy so your partner can have half an hour to herself.
- Play with them while she has a shower/ bath or gets dressed.
- Help with the baby-related chores, especially towards the end of the day when she is likely to be most tired – bathing, giving bottles and putting them to bed.
- Enjoy time together – making a meal, getting a takeaway or get a babysitter so you can go out together.
- Help with housework – cleaning, laundry, washing up, etc.
- Consider asking someone to help or having some sort of paid help if you can afford it (even if it is just temporary until she feels better and the timeconsuming baby stage is over).
- Listen to her. Depression is not caused by faulty reasoning and you will not be able to talk her out of it. Just let her talk honestly, without rejecting the emotions. .
- Encourage your partner to talk to someone and seek professional help.
- Restraint is always the best policy. Don’t point out bad things (neglected housework, her appearance etc).
- Don’t blame yourself or try to solve her depression. You should not shoulder the responsibility for how she feels and you cannot personally cure it. The best thing you can do is to persuade her to share her feelings and seek outside help.
- Be patient. Think of your partner as someone who isn’t well and encourage her.
- Accept her as she is – don’t tell her to ‘cheer up’ or ‘snap out of it’. Be aware that PND can cause a psychological see-saw in a relationship where the down position of one could cause the other person to feel ‘up’ and look down on their partner as a ‘mess’.
- Act as a buffer from outside stress and upsetting situations. Discourage her from seeing people who bring her down. Remember not all help is helpful! For example if she has a negative relationship with family members who are now thrown back together due to the practical needs of looking after the newborn babies, these relationships may put undue stress and pressure on her, and may exacerbate a depressive episode.
- Don’t ignore any suicide threats. They may be a cry for help and she may not necessarily act on them, but sadly PND can end in suicide. Encourage her to seek her doctors’ advice and if necessary, go with her.
- If you suspect she may harm the babies, make sure there is someone with her until she feels better. Don’t leave her alone with the babies.
- Look after yourself too – it can be deeply distressing and tiring living with someone suffering from depression, as well as coping with multiples.
Courtesy of Tamba - www.tamba.org.uk