Sometimes the time after birth never does start to feel ‘right’. Sometimes post-partum depression has entered the picture. If your partner seems consistently disinterested in things that she used to take joy in, if she cries persistently for no reason that she can describe, or if she is ‘flat’ (i.e. not expressing any emotion at all), then she may be suffering from post-partum depression. See symptoms of postpartum depression for a full list of possible symptoms.
Sometimes there are pre-disposing factors that lead to postpartum depression, such as a past history of depression. But there are many other factors that can affect a woman’s ability to adjust to being a mother, such as isolation, or a difficult birth. Giving birth is a major life transition, and one out of every six new mothers will experience postpartum depression going through it. It can be an extremely stressful time for a young family.
If you think your partner may be depressed, it is important that you discuss it with her and get her some help, to prevent the depression from deepening. If you are lucky enough to have a family physician, tell your partner you are making an appointment for her, make it, and then take her to it. Describe what you see happening (or not happening) so her physician can get the whole picture. Hopefully your partner will be able to open up at the physician’s office and share her symptoms. Her physician may prescribe anti-depressants to get her through this time and should also refer her to a counsellor, to deal with the deeper issues that may be contributing to the depression.
It can be very difficult being the partner of a depressed person. But there are resources available. Pacific Post Partum Support Society is a non-profit agency providing telephone and peer support and information throughout the Lower Mainland. They offer advice for fathers living with postpartum depression on their page for fathers.
Your relationship with your partner
Having a baby can put a huge strain on a relationship. If your relationship was struggling before you became pregnant, having a baby will not ‘fix’ things. It may delay the resolution of issues, but the issues will still be there. If you were considering getting counselling before the baby came into the picture, don’t put it off because you are busy with your baby. For the sake of your relationship see one as soon as you can.