Family Matters During The Early Postpartum Time

Postpartum mood, anxiety and adjustment disorders not only affect the mother but can have an impact on the family system as a whole. Because such disorders commonly affect the emotions and/or behaviors of the mother, it can be difficult for family members to deal and cope with something they do not understand. As a result, it is not uncommon for clients to report that their family members do not “get” what they are experiencing, leaving the mother feeling isolated and alone. Without having a firsthand experience of what a mental health diagnosis means for the mother, it can be hard for families to provide the support needed for the new mother to recover. With good intentions, family members may try to comfort their loved one by saying things like, “Things will get better over time”, “At least you have a healthy baby” or point out what a blessing motherhood is. Despite their good intentions, these statements may leave the mother feeling more down and/or inadequate in their role. Families can help a mother with postpartum issues develop a sense of “hope,” an important element of recovery. Words from family and friends and communication patterns can work together to either support a new mother’s recovery or maintain her symptoms of depression or anxiety. While symptoms may create stress for a family, stress can also create symptoms for the mother. It is a double edged sword. Couples or family therapy can help a family address unhelpful communication patterns and help members understand the symptoms of postpartum mood, anxiety and/or adjustment disorders. This understanding can help in shortening the recovery time and increase the necessary support needed for a new mother to navigate her way through her illness. The following is a short list of what family members or partners can say to support a new mom.

1. How are you feeling today?

2. Our baby is lucky to have you as it’s mother.

3. What do you need today? What sounds good to you right now?

4. Let’s make a plan to give you a break or to take a rest.

5. I love you and no matter how you feel; it will not change how I feel about you. 

There is nothing better a family can do for a new mother than give her patient understanding and support. Family support can make all the difference! All of the therapists at CPFH are trained to address the whole family system and help the family do what it takes to help a new mother recover from her postpartum illness as quickly as possible. Feel free to call and ask about how couples or family therapy can help you. We want to help you be a Well Mom.