Written by Cloé Vaz-Wiggins
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What I love about writing for ‘It’s a Lifestyle Hun’ is that it always makes me reflect on the realest and most necessary topics we should be talking about with our group of friends and our families. I love it, because it also challenges and makes me consider topics that I might not have before. At least not to the depth that I always do after writing or reading an article on the platform.
This one was no different. It was particularly challenging and delicate in the sense than I’m not writing it from personal experience, I’ve never gone through it and have the upmost respect and admiration for any woman that has, so ensuring that I don’t discredit or banalize a topic that is so important, real and painful for so many women was the biggest priority.
Every woman’s experience throughout the process of getting pregnant and having their babies is so incredibly different and the way in which you can be there for them will depend on all of those unique circumstances: who and how they are, their context and the dynamic of your relationship with them.
I thought for this one it would be more useful to provide insight from the perspective of mothers who have experienced postpartum depression. I asked a few, kind women to share; what would have been helpful? What did they wish people knew? Had done? Or how do they wish people had been there for them during that period?
Here’s what they said:
Don’t ask if they need help, just help
If there are dishes in the sink, if there are clothes to fold, if there is food you can make or bring, if there is anything you see that they will need to do that you can. Just do it. Often times we want to ask and make sure they communicate what help they need and more often than not, they simply cannot articulate it. Take action and just do it. If it’s not received well, stop, apologise and explain you just wanted to relieve the burden in the ways in which you can.
Creating space for someone is one of the most important ways in which you can be there for them. Listen, don’t offer any solutions, don’t try to fix it, just listen and make sure they know they can always talk to you. And if sometimes that talking is not with words, you’re there too. Make sure they know.
Educate yourself and don’t judge
Regardless of your opinions, make sure you educate yourself on what postpartum depression actually is, its symptoms and how it can affect mothers. You’ll never know what the other person is going through, but in good human being nature it’s likely that you’ll assume you do, to some extent. The truth is, until you experience it, you don’t, so don’t judge, don’t make assumptions and try to keep any comments or suggestions as if you know how to fix it yourself.
Respect their boundaries
Take their lead, be there and try to do what you can to help, but always take their lead. Maybe they won’t be up for socialising, talking, seeing people or you, going out or whatever else. It’s important to respect what it is they need, whilst making sure they know you’ll be there. Whenever they are ready.
The most important thing to remember is that everyone’s experience with postpartum depression is singular and unique to them, it’s essential to be patient, understanding and non-judgmental throughout the process. Encourage them to seek professional help, when necessary, help them find the help that can work for them. Support and encourage them to include self-care practises in their new routine, be as empathetic and as kind as you possibly can. Shower them with love. And in the process, keep reminding them, that this too shall pass.