How can fathers of today help their wives in dealing with postpartum blues

On World Mental Health Day we highlight how fathers play a pivotal role in dealing with post pregnancy depression.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), postpartum blues have an incidence of 300‒750 per 1000 mothers globally. The emotional floodgates that open because of changing hormones, childbirth and the constant questioning is called postpartum blues. The signs to look out for postpartum blues are mothers getting teary, irritable, overly sensitive in interactions with others and mood swings. Mothers face difficulty in opening to their families about it and sometimes aren’t even aware of the symptoms. Postpartum blues can turn into serious depression and psychosis and mothers need to get expert help if needed. Dr Preeti Gangan , IBCLC certified consultant, Pediatrician, part of Medela India LC Club talks about the role of fathers in parenting.

The role of fathers is important in both parenting and support to the wife. Husbands try to anticipate their partner’s needs and encourage their partner to do their best, especially while nursing. Even though the biological role is of the mothers, fathers can be equally active by developing their knowledge bank. They can stock up on parenting books about breastfeeding, child rearing, etc. Creating a community online allows for a father to find each other and share similar experiences. They can also watch You Tube tutorials for easy understanding of the science behind breastfeeding amongst other practices.

Nursing support and encouraging breastfeeding practices starts at home. Breast milk is one of the most significant ways to improve infant survival rates and reduces risk of ovarian, breast cancer and postpartum depression in mothers. Thereby, boosting and creating a comfortable environment for mothers becomes necessary. It is believed that fathers can influence the initiation and maintenance of breastfeeding contributes to maternal breastfeeding confidence, influence decisions regarding duration and weaning, and that without fathers' support mothers are more likely to breastfeed for a shorter duration.

Therefore, fathers need to be better equipped to take the role of breastfeeding supporters. At the times of nursing, fathers can store the expressed milk and give it to the baby when the mother is at work. Practical support strategies can be assistance with meal preparation, household chores, bathing the baby and bringing the baby to the mother for night time feed. Soothe her by giving her a nice massage or ordering in her favorite cuisine. Complimenting and acknowledging her breastfeeding efforts goes a long way. Ensure the family members do not confuse the mother with myths and outdated ideas.

All the mother wants is a familiar face who can listen to what she is going through. She wants to do everything right for her baby and in this process, she ends up stressing. This is the time for the father to express his affection and perform tiny acts of kindness to encourage and boost her confidence. Parenting is a team effort which implies when one partner falls, the other should be ready to pick them up.

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