The combination of hormonal changes, psychological adjustment to motherhood, and fatigue may result in postpartum depression.
You are the one who has endured nine months of carrying this wonderful miracle inside your belly. You are the one who had to get up multiple times during the night to use the bathroom. You are the one who had the symptoms of pregnancy including morning sickness, swollen feet, and hot flashes. You are the one who had to buy clothing with an elastic waistband. Finally, the new baby arrives and you are overjoyed and realizing that every bit of pain associated with the pregnancy was worth it. Even the hours of labor pains and the whole process of delivery was completely worth it. You love your baby, your partner, and your life.
So, you ask, why does my partner have the blues now that the baby is here? They did not have to suffer at any time during the pregnancy. You are the one who should have the blues, correct?
To figure out the answer it is best to understand what post-partum depression is, what causes it and how it affects those who did not give birth.
What is Post-Partum Depression
The time after you deliver your baby can be filled with a wide range of emotions. One minute you may be crying tears of joy and the next you may be crying tears of confusion, sadness due to exhaustion.
Post-partum depression may be caused by the hormones that change drastically after delivery. Your estrogen levels drop and can leave you feeling out of balance. The new levels of hormones are trying to rebalance themselves and can leave you feeling like you are on a roller coaster of emotions. Factor in your lack of good sleep and your body starts screaming for help.
Post-partum depression is sometimes called the baby blues and usually starts soon after the birth of the baby. The blues usually only last a few weeks. If your depressive symptoms last longer than this, you may need to mention this to your doctor. Having the baby blues is very normal and common among many women who have given birth.
So, how can your partner have post-partum depression?
Partner Post-Partum Depression
Believe it or not, partners can get the post-partum blues too. We have all heard of partners gaining pregnancy weight, just like pregnant moms. Now research is finding that your partner can have the post-baby blues too.
When the baby comes home from the hospital your partner starts to realize that everything they knew before the baby, would now be totally different. Their routines are different, feeding schedules are different and guess what, your partner realizes they are not your number one priority anymore.
Partners can start to feel left out, rejected and even a little jealous of the time the baby gets to spend with you. Partners, the ones who are helping feed and change your newborn throughout the night, are lacking good sleep just like you. Lack of sleep can keep our brains from fully restoring the parts of our bodies that need attention. In addition, lack of sleep leads to both of you feeling out of balance and this can lead to grumpiness, poor eating habits, and lack of focus.
Sign 1: Change in Behaviors
If you notice your partner’s behaviors changing, they may be experiencing post-partum depression. Their depression may not behave like your depression. Their behaviors may include drinking or using drugs more frequently, working later than usual, throwing objects when they get mad, or verbally abusing you. They could also be behaving in ways that seem great but are abnormal behaviors for them. These include over-cleaning the house, as if they may have obsessive-compulsive disorder. They may also refuse to let anyone visit the baby or even deny grandparents the ability to visit. They are not only isolating themselves but the entire family.
Energy levels in your partner may drop or rise dramatically if they are experiencing depressive symptoms. You may find they do not seem motivated to do anything. They may become impulsive when normally they were not before the new baby. They may even start to complain more about physical ailments such as headaches or digestive problems. These can all be examples of how your partner is dealing with their depression.
Sign 2: Change in Emotions
Your partner may have a shift in their emotions that is not typical. They may be seen crying more or getting angry more often. They may have severe swings in their emotions, one day laughing the whole day while another day, crying.
If you hear your partner making statements about feeling “down” or “hopeless”, pay attention. Even more, if you hear them talk about being suicidal, your partner needs to seek professional help so they can figure out the cause and solution for their depression.
Your partner may be feeling stressed out, more than usual. They may exhibit increasing levels of anxiety and even be having panic attacks on occasion. This level of stress can be extremely unhealthy and frightening for your partner. Stress can lead to physical constraints like heart problems, over-eating, migraines and more. Stress can lead to emotional issues like constant crying, not being able to concentrate, not sleeping well, and even the abuse of drugs or alcohol.
Sign 3: Isolating or Withdrawing from the Family
If your partner is acting like they want nothing to do with you or the new baby, this could be a clear sign they are dealing with post-partum depression. Isolation and withdrawal are very serious concerns for anyone who is depressed. Pulling away from activities and people are true signs that a person is experiencing distress. They may not even be aware they are isolating themselves because it can be a gradual process. With the excitement of the new baby’s arrival, some of their withdrawal could go unnoticed. To avoid this, you and your partner need to communicate every day about your feelings and how you are feeling physically.
Post-partum depression can affect both you and your partner. If you notice symptoms in either you or your partner, seek help from a professional who can determine if it is temporary or a long-term problem. Either way, there is great help available. Help that can get you on the road to recovery so you can both be there for your new baby. Do whatever it takes to deal with you and your partner’s post-partum blues in order to be the best parents for your new bundle of joy.