A Guide for Spouses and Partners
Based on the information provided by Pacific Post Partum Support Society, it usually takes three to twelve months (sometimes longer) before the postpartum depressed woman feels “herself” again. The following information should be shared with the individuals in her “support system” so they can understand her feelings and needs at each stage of recovery.
Initial Stage: It is important during this stage that the mother take frequent breaks and have some time for herself. Encourage her to accept and acknowledge her feelings. Generally speaking, the woman feels very depressed at this stage. She needs a lot of reassurance and encouragement.
Transition Stage: The mother starts to have a few “good” days. This can be a very difficult time for her since the first “bad” day after feeling somewhat better is very disappointing. It is a high risk stage because the depressed ways of coping are not acceptable to her, but she has not yet developed a reliable set of new alternatives. She may become very despairing or very angry even if she did not feel this way before. She needs a great deal of support at this stage.
Middle Stage: At this point, the woman has started to have more “good” days than “bad” days. She is feeling a lot better. However, as she becomes more assertive about her needs she often asks her husband/partner to change in order that these needs be met. Arguments and fighting between the woman and her partner can occur at this stage. Patience, understanding and communication are crucial.
Final Stage: At this stage, the woman is having mostly “good” days. She can cope with her occasional “bad” days. She is feeling mostly positive about her child(ren). She accepts any negative feelings which she may have and can deal with them safely. She says she knows who she is again. She feels confident about the changes which she has made and will continue to make changes to ensure her own well-being.
After the woman’s depression is resolved she may be able to help other postpartum depressed mothers. With brief training, she can volunteer to become a phone counselor or other type of volunteer.