Good supports are vital to the mental health of mothers. However, COVID-19 presents unique barriers to engaging supports, particularly those outside of the home. Partners are a logical first choice, but if one is not present (or able), it may be helpful to seek outside help from family or friends. It’s crucial to ensure that anyone who comes in contact with new mothers and infants is at low risk for the coronavirus.
Raising an infant while struggling with postpartum depression can be very overwhelming and requires creative solutions. Telephone calls and videoconferencing with friends and family can also be helpful, as can goal-setting and consistency around personal and social time.
Since many partners may also be at home, COVID-19 provides a special opportunity for couples to work collaboratively. Conversations about labour division that take into account partners’ strengths and limitations can lead to effective plans that optimize breaks, sleep and pleasurable activities.
Partners of women with postpartum depression can help by providing practical assistance (for example, nighttime feeds and household chores) and support, keeping in mind that listening alone (without having to “fix” problems) can be therapeutic.
Perhaps most important of all, it’s important to keep in mind that postpartum depression does improve, and the COVID-19 crisis will pass. Self-care, compassion and engaging one’s partner in the journey to recovery can not only bolster the health of mothers and their families, but build stronger bonds in the long term.