How In-Laws Can Support of a Loved One with Postpartum Depression
If your daughter-in-law has just been diagnosed with postpartum depression or is experiencing initial symptoms, it can be difficult to know how to respond and how to help. Many in-laws face stresses of their own when they become concerned about their daughter-in-law, their own child and grandchild or grandchildren.
Below is a guide for parents-in-law to follow to better help the mother and her family cope with postpartum depression in healthy and supportive ways.
Staying connected with the family allows you to be informed about your daughter-in-law’s condition and notice any symptoms in your child. Fathers and spouses often suffer in silence when their partner is experiencing postpartum depression. Many fathers are hesitant to share their own struggles for fear of guilt and shame.
As the parents-in-law, be on the lookout for possible depression-like symptoms in your own child so you can help support them as well. By staying in communication regularly with your family, you can have a better idea of just how these symptoms are affecting everyone involved.
Treatment is important in ensuring that the mother’s postpartum depression symptoms are managed. If she is apprehensive about seeking treatment or unsure of which type of treatment to pursue, encourage her to make an initial doctor’s visit. While you don’t want to pressure her into anything, you can still remain supportive of treatment options.
You can even suggest other forms of support such as a postpartum depression hotline, a local support group or counseling from someone else like a spiritual leader. She must feel your support, concern and interest in her well-being and recovery.
Family households face a lot of uncertainty and instability when a mother is affected by postpartum depression. The house may become disorganized, responsibilities may be dropped and the mother may feel more guilty as a result.
As parents-in-law you can offer support by being the stability that the couple is seeking to restore. Offer to set a regular schedule for visiting, preparing meals or however else they require stability. If you can consistently reassure them, you can prevent and relieve a lot of additional stress.
Help With Childcare
Many couples face marital problems during postpartum depression. This has to do with them not deliberately spending time alone together. As the parents or in-laws of the affected couple, encourage them to spend time together without their children.
By offering to provide child care for a day or a weekend, it relieves stress and guilt they may feel about spending time away from the house together.
Give Them Space
Grandparents naturally love to spend as much time as possible with their new grandchildren. This may be especially true if your family is facing postpartum depression. But it’s important to give your family space as they work through postpartum depression symptoms and find the right treatment course.
Let them know you are willing and able to help — but don’t overwhelm them. Let them come to you when they are ready.
Be a Friend
Instead of acting as a parent, try to see your role as a friend who is there to listen. Let the mother know that you are available to go for walks, coffee or get out of the house with her if she needs it. This way you can still offer support without overwhelming her with advice or concern that she may already be getting from her own parents.
Remember that there is no way to cure or fix the depression that your daughter-in-law is experiencing. Support the steps that she and her spouse are taking to seek help. By remaining positive about her progress and focusing on the fact that postpartum depression eventually heals, you can play an important role in her recovery.