If you are reading this you may have concerns about feelings or behaviour of your partner who is pregnant or recently had a baby.
Pregnancy and parenthood is a time of great change and it is common for new parents to experience a range of emotions, both positive and negative, in response to these changes. Many people find that pregnancy or having a baby is more challenging than they anticipated – this is a common experience of re-adjustment.
For some however the challenges become overwhelming. When this happens it is important to seek help. Caring for someone struggling with perinatal anxiety or depression can be distressing and confronting. You might feel:
– Confused or uncertain about what to say or do to help: “I don’t know what to say in case I make things worse”
– Useless: “Nothing I say or do seems to help!”
– Frustrated and angry: “Why are they being like this when I am trying so hard?”
– Overwhelmed: “It’s all too much!”
– Alienated: “I don’t know how to relate to this experience”
– Unsure about how or when to help: “Am I interfering? Should I be helping more? Should I be letting them have space?”
– A sense of loss: “When is the person going to ‘be their old self?”
– A loss of support: “The person I used to closely rely on is no longer there for me”
Tips for partners:
– The best thing you can provide for your partner at this time is emotional support. Try to be gentle and encouraging
– Remember that the symptoms your partner is experiencing are due to illness rather than faults in your relationship
– Now is not the best time to make big life decisions about things like your relationship, career or your house
– Reassure your partner that you understand any loss of interest in sex for the time being. It can be very frustrating when a depressed partner loses their libido, but this is a sign of the illness. There may be other ways of expressing intimacy
– Looking after yourself and your own health is really important and will help you be the best support for your partner
– Accept offers of help from family or friends
You may notice:
– Changes in the mood and personality of ‘the person you thought you knew’
– Loss of emotional intimacy: your partner might withdraw or push you away
– Changes in your sex life: anxious or depressed people commonly lose interest in or lack the energy for sex
– Increased/extreme neediness. This can be frustrating for a partner who already feels pressure from work, an impending birth or new baby
– Increased physical stress from being the main carer (cooking, cleaning, loss of sleep, working and lookingafter a new baby.)
Getting Help and Support
If you are worried about your partner, family member or friend, encourage them to phone the PANDA Helpline or talk with their GP, midwife, obstetrician or child health nurse.
Partners and carers can also call the PANDA Helpline. Having support in your role as a carer is important.
If you are worried about the safety of someone close to you please do not leave them alone. Stay with them and seek medical help via a GP, mental health team or local hospital. You can phone 000 if you are concerned about their immediate safety.