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Parenting Education/Support

It takes a village, but we all do not have that village. Unfortunately, while parenthood can be very rewarding, there will be many times when it is challenging. With or without the proper support system, it can easily become overwhelming. Let me help you feel confident, equipped, and much less apprehensive about knowing how to help your child and to be the parent that you hope to be.

Whether you are a new parent who is terrified of bringing your little one home, learning how to juggle, home, work, your relationships, and be an attentive parent or adding a third little one to the mix and you are nervous about that prospect, I am here to help. Maybe you have teens at home that are becoming more independent, preparing to go off to college, all of these life transitions can be scary, and difficult for Mamas. Maybe you and your spouse are separating, will be co-parenting, and you want to make this change as seamless as possible for your child. I am here to support you. In therapy a parent can address feelings about any specific issue, and you will find support and guidance, and we will move towards taking practical steps toward more effective and satisfying parenting.

Parents as Partners

For men and women, parenthood is a transformative event. No couple experiences parenthood in the same way. That is why it is important to support and appreciate one another.

Practical things partners can do:

  • Help around the house.
  • Set limits with friends and family.
  • Go with her to doctor’s appointments and come prepared with questions.
  • Educate yourself about PMADs and schedule a couple’s session.
  • Let her get five-hours of uninterrupted sleep by doing some late-night feedings.
  • Just sit with her. No TV, no phones, no distractions to give her the space to just be.

How to help a mom who is suffering from postpartum depression or anxiety

  • Reassure her that this is not her fault and that she is not alone. With help and support, she will get better.
  • Encourage her to talk about her feelings. Remember, you do not have to fix, just listen without judgment.
  • Make sure she is taking care of herself: eating balanced and nutritious meals, resting when she can and taking breaks.
  • Manage your expectations, just because she is home all day or on maternity leave don’t expect her to be super-housewife.
  • Be realistic about what time you will be home and make sure to be home at that time.
  • Help her find professional support and treatment, especially if things get worse.

Reference: Kleinman, K (2000). The postpartum husband: Practical solutions for living with postpartum depression.

Keep in mind

  • You did not cause her illness and you can’t take it away. Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders is a biochemical disorder, it is no one’s fault. No one ever asks to be depressed.
  • She just needs you to listen. She probably feels alone and scared right now. Listening to what she is going through and being supportive can be very powerful.
  • Take care of yourself too. Often partners can get depressed during or after a partner’s maternal depression. We need to keep you as the “healthy” partner healthy right now.
  • Lower your expectations. Even postpartum women, who are not depressed, shouldn’t be expected to cook dinner or clean the house. Remind her that parenting your child and taking care of household responsibilities is your job too, not just hers.
  • Let her rest. Often it is harder to deal with things when we have not gotten sleep. Protect her sleep by allowing her to get at least four to five hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Postpartum Depression & Anxiety Impacts Fathers Too

Maternal mental illness has a negative impact on partners, including higher likelihood of personal mental illness. An estimated 10% of new dads experience paternal postpartum depression. One of the risk factors for fathers developing depression is to have a partner who experiences a Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder. Additionally, there is a stigma for men suffering in early parenthood because we see fathers as stoic and self-sacrificing or disconnected from their emotions. But according to research, men’s hormones, such as testosterone levels, can change during a partner’s pregnancy and after the birth of a new baby making fathers also vulnerable to depression and anxiety.

Tips to help support dads:

  • Check-in with dad too. After a baby is born we tend to ask how the mother and baby are doing, but don’t forget about dad. Ask dad how he is coping with the new baby and listen to what he has to say.
  • Provide the space for fathers to acknowledge their feelings. A safe space can allow fathers to talk about their new responsibilities and fears. Just providing the space to talk can alleviate anxiety and stress.
  • Allow fathers to take an active role in child caring. Sometimes a mother’s own anxieties about the baby can get in the way of the father taking an active part in child care. Who cares if the diaper is on wrong? Let dad figure this out! He wants to help, so let him.
  • Know the signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety. Often we miss the signs of depression and anxiety in our loved ones and ourselves. Be aware of what is normal adjustment to parenthood and what might be more serious signs of mental illness.
  • Encourage dad to get help when needed. Reduce the stigma associated with mental health and mental health treatment by normalizing and encouraging fathers to get support. Seek out counseling or support from other new fathers.