A mother suffering from PND is unable to pull herself out of it, if she could
she would, no one wants to feel as terrible as you do when you have PND. The
following tips may make it easier for you to understand how she is feeling,
therefore helping you both through her recovery.
- Your partner will have good days and bad days, times when she will feel more
like her old self which will be better for both of you, but it doesn’t mean that
she is totally recovered. These good days will become more and more with the bad
days decreasing BUT this does take time, and she will need reassurance that she
will get better. During the bad days, it may be very hard for her to remember
her good days and she may even feel that the bad ones are the real her. This is
NOT so, it’s the depression that makes her feel like this.
- It will help her enormously if you can accept these good and bad days,
support her when she's feeling low and encourage her on her good days. She will
go through periods of being well and then may experience times of feeling low
again, this is totally normal and is always the case with PND. However, this can
be very frustrating for you and her- to see her feeling well for a time may make
you think that she has recovered- this unfortunately doesn't happen with PND, it
is a very gradual recovery, which can take some time.
- Many women will pretend to their family and friends that they are feeling
better, when asked. This may be for different reasons:
She may feel that as others expect and want her to be better by now, that
it's easier to pretend rather than continue to tell them how she really
She may feel that she doesn't want to be a burden to others so will stop
telling them how she really feels.
She may have been told by someone that she can expect to feel better by a
certain time, if she doesn't, she may well pretend to as this is what has been
expected of her. Everyone has different recovery times, some longer than others,
but she WILL get better.
- You may not necessarily be able to see how she's feeling by her behaviour
(many women are great at covering it up) so by asking how she's feeling will
give you more idea and give her an opportunity to tell you. It may be an idea to
have five minutes each, every evening for you to tell each other how your days'
been without interruption from the other and it may be helpful for both of you
to have a phrase for a bad day such as a 'red day'. So instead of saying 'are
you having a bad day?' you may want to say 'is this a red day for
- Remember that both your lives have changed since the birth of the baby. You
may now be the sole earner, a financial responsibility for you and may feel left
out at times as she may only seem to have time for the baby. You may think she
is more competent than you when dealing with the baby and possibly feel that you
can never get it right whatever you do to try to help. If they don't give you
the reaction you were expecting then don't give up, try again another time, they
may have been having a bad day.
- Your partner may find her role boring, frustrating, endless chores to be
done without having much adult company during the day. Even when she meets up
with others for coffee etc, she may not be able to have a conversation without
being interrupted, sicked on, having to change a nappy, breastfeed etc. These
are all demands made upon her, which will be made worse by her PND. She may
begin to resent the fact that you can go out to work, get on with your job, eat
your lunch etc without being interrupted!
- She may want some caring affection from you without necessarily making love.
Being a mother is physically and emotionally draining and she may well feel that
the demands of the baby are so great that she doesn't have much reserve left for
you. Try not to take this as rejection, she can still be loving and caring
towards you and is more likely to be if she feels that demands aren't being made
- You may want to talk about this together, have some time (if possible) just
for yourselves-you can still have emotional and physical love for each other
without having sex, if either of you don't feel like it.
Finally remember, that this is an illness which takes time to recover from,
she will be her old self again and things will get better for you both.
SUGGESTIONS FOR PARTNERS FROM MOTHERS EXPERIENCING PND
- Cook a meal or better still take her out, if she feels up to it.
- Take the children out, even if it's only for a short time each week, it gives
her the time she needs for herself.
- Run a bath for her and tell her to relax in it.
- Help her to get the children ready when your going out.
- Buy flowers, or a surprise for her, make her feel valued.
- Tell her that you appreciate her, and for what, sometimes this can mean more
than 'I love you.'
- Perhaps share the household chores