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Postpartum Depression - How Dads can Really Help

Postpartum Depression - How Dads can Really Help

Postpartum depression is a horrible aspect of having a baby, and unfortunately, far too many women find themselves in this situation. As a father, it can be really difficult. We can feel powerless, frustrated and even mad at our partners. We can end up resenting having a child and it can be extremely overwhelming. Fortunately there are a number of concrete things that you can do that make a significant impact. 1. Strengthen your Team The first thing is that your partner really needs to feel like she is part of a team. So often the experience of becoming a mom is really intense. They go from being in a work setting or engaging in something similar in their life, to all of the sudden being alone with a baby who has intense needs. They often don’t have time to even shower, let alone get the food they need. It becomes really overwhelming. But if they feel you there with them, if they feel like they are part of a team, it makes an immense difference. If you are an engaged equally empowered parent who can provide in the difficult moments, then she will not feel nearly as alone. This is also wonderful experience as a dad because being that engaged father is deeply satisfying. There are a few key challenges that stop men from being this powerful father and I discuss those in the videos, One Key to Being a Great Dad & Why Modern Families Struggle. I invite you to watch those and find your way to step up, whether or not it is taking care of the night duty so your partner can sleep or tending to the baby when it is screaming. Do not assume that you are a lesser parent. You can do everything other than breastfeed. 2. Really Listen The second thing that your partner really needs is to be listened to. She needs a place where she can get all of her feelings out. She may even think that she is going crazy, but if she has someone that will listen to her and be there with her in those intensities, it will make a huge difference. Just ask her how she is doing. If she is hesitant to share, just say "Look, I know you probably have a lot of crazy feelings." It's normal for women in that situation to have fantasies even about hurting the baby. As horrific as those ideas are, they are very normal and if she can share them, it will be greatly relieving for her, especially if she hears that they are actually quite normal thoughts. Support her to get her feelings out. Be there. Listen to her. Look her in the eye. When she comes to a pause in what she is sharing, just say "Thank you, what else would you like to tell me? What else is happening for you?" Really give her that space. It can take just 20 minutes, but it makes an immense difference for her to feel like there is somebody that cares and will listen to her. It is really intense as I talked about, to make that transition from being a normal member of society to being stuck at home with a baby that has intense needs. Your listening ear makes that transition a lot easier. 3. The Power of a Hug Similarly, being right next to her, holding her and providing physical affection also shows her that she is not alone. Touch is deeply soothing for an overwhelmed nervous system and has been shown to greatly help depressive feelings. Simply hold her and remind her that you are there with her. Let her feel in her body that she is not alone. More at
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