Parenthood is a massive life transition for both mom and partner that involves significant emotional, social, and physical changes for both parents.
Commonly overlooked and forgotten about is the importance that role of social support can play to help prevent and treat symptoms of PPD or common postpartum mood disorders.
Postpartum depression is considered moderate to severe depression in a parent after birth. It can occur soon after birth or up to a year, but most of the time it occurs within three months of delivery.
Social support in Postpartum depression is an amazing tool for bringing more awareness to PPD and reducing the stigma surrounding it. This allows those silent sufferers to understand that YOU ARE NOT ALONE and that one in 10 dads/partners develop PPD and up to 18% can have a clinically significant anxiety disorder.
The Concept of Social Support
Social support is the type of help that comes from an individual’s social network. There can be emotional, informational, and instrumental social support.
Empathy, compassion, and understanding derive from this type of support. It could be as simple as someone taking the time to listen to you talking with a genuine interest.
Offering empathy through a lens of caring and understanding is a very effective way of normalizing someone’s feelings and reducing feelings of loneliness.
Support in the form of advice or some type of helpful words is considered informational. This form of social support is particularly helpful when someone may be in need of guidance or direction in working through a specific symptom of PPD.
Informational support is fantastic for overcoming challenges and working through adversities.
This is more of a physical support where help with chores, giving rides, or assisting with the baby comes into play.
Sometimes a partner needs a break and when a friend or family member can step in and take care of the baby, this can be a powerful instrumental method for managing stress.
Identifying sources of social support
The beautiful thing about social support is that it can be present in more than one way. If one avenue isn’t available at the time, there are many others to look down on for help.
Your family can provide a very strong, close, and personable means to helping you navigate through your challenges with PPD.
Most people feel very comfortable with their family members and should take advantage of that by talking about what they are going through.
Partners are your “ride or die” through parenthood and in a supportive environment should step up and help with whatever challenges you may experience.
Support groups are a great way to share your story with other like-minded individuals that could be going through the same thing you are.
They are a great opportunity to lean on and learn from what coping methods may have worked.
Professionals in this field are huge resources in delivering the right support geared toward your specific situation or symptoms.
As a coach, my goal is to create an empathetic connection and provide a roadmap for working through and creating a compelling future you deserve.
The role of the community in providing social support
Living in an area with an awareness of postpartum mental health can foster a strong community for providing social support.
For example, the UK has taken a very proactive initiative through education, volunteerism, and social outreach in breaking the stigma and bridging the gap for postpartum mental health and parenting challenges.
The Link Between Social Support and Postpartum Depression
Research has proven the positive effect that social support has on PPD. Studies show that higher levels of social involvement through having a supportive network are associated with lower chances of developing PPD.
The bigger you can make your social network through friends, family, and acquaintances the better chance you have at preventing PPD and overcoming it if you do develop symptoms.
This ties into one of the major symptoms of PPD being social isolation and withdrawal.
If you can set up a large social support network you become less likely to experience this symptom.
How lack of social support can exacerbate Postpartum Depression symptoms
Without having any social support before, during, or after birth, feelings of loneliness and worthlessness can develop which may be a sign of PPD or other postpartum mood disorders.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE, and without a social support network, it becomes very easy to start feeling that way. Support groups are a great way of reaching out and joining if you begin to feel alone and helpless.
They can provide a guiding light through the dark times to help you navigate through your symptoms.
A lack of social support can also make the stigma surrounding postpartum mental health seem more prevalent. Education and surrounding yourself with friends and family will eliminate that stigma and push you through the hard times!
Benefits of strong social support networks for new parents
New parents can benefit greatly from having a strong social support network. They can lean on their family to help chip in with errands, take care of the baby, or even provide transportation.
If a lack of sleep has become an issue, ask a family member to come over and watch the baby for a couple of hours so that you can take a nap to help replenish your batteries.
Has your house become so messy you find it unbearable to live in? Phone a friend or family member to come and help clean up with you.
Having another person who understands what you are going through can be motivating to help catch up on regular duties like cleaning your house.
It can take a village to effectively recover from a postpartum mood disorder, highlighting the significance of why a strong social support network is so important!
Types of Social Support and Their Impact on Postpartum Depression
If you have a story, overwhelming feelings, or thoughts that you aren’t comfortable with and you want to tell someone, emotional support is the way to go.
Having someone you can trust and confide in with what you are experiencing can take a load off of your plate just by having a conversation about everything. The power of talk therapy is so beneficial and could be available at your fingertips through your partner, family members, or close friends.
Somebody that can listen, understand, and even relate to some of the things you are going through eliminates the feelings of loneliness and helplessness.
Be open with your feelings as the power of vulnerability not only allows you to be upfront with everything but helps process those emotions and challenges as well.
Finding emotional support is also an incredible way of strengthening relationships and fostering love with somebody.
So many studies have shown how important it is to have meaningful relationships with people as it brings happiness and joy, two killers of PPD, into people’s lives.
There are many online groups and resources that provide informational support to those suffering from symptoms of PPD.
Facebook is a great start in searching for PPD groups for partners/fathers that are experiencing symptoms or have worked through them and are there to offer advice.
Postpartum Support International is the largest organization aimed at bringing awareness, education, and support to those affected by any postpartum-related issues.
You can find very valuable articles, support groups, and educational material directed at a variety of conditions.
The more you learn, the more you will share and become aware of the silent sufferers and the need of shedding light on PPD.
Offering advice or even just an article to someone experiencing something similar to what you are going through can be surprisingly fulfilling.
Having a newborn in your household that you and your partner are trying to figure out can take a lot of time away from your other daily responsibilities.
Instrumental support is a game changer for assisting in those daily tasks or even helping out with the baby.
One piece of advice I can give when in need of this type of support is to lower your pride and say yes to people that are offering to chip in.
If you have this type of support, take full advantage of it because there is no need to be heroic and assume you can resume daily life with a newborn.
Social Support Interventions for Postpartum Depression
As more light is shed on postpartum depression for partners and fathers, so too are professional interventions becoming more available.
Taking some time to research and do your due diligence in finding a program or counsellor that is a good fit will be worth its weight in gold.
All too often people jump right in and get matched with someone they don’t like, only to delay recovery and potentially create more unwanted symptoms.
Having an option like a 30-minute connection call with somebody to see if you two are a good fit will determine if a relationship to create a compelling future will work or not.
Peer support groups
Reaching out to your hospital or local birthing centre to find out if they provide support groups is an amazing opportunity to connect with other mothers/fathers that are experiencing similar difficulties.
This is also a great way to develop new relationships with other parents and share your stories through what has helped, what hasn’t helped, and things of that nature.
Family and partner involvement
In my opinion, having a strong, close, and genuine relationship with your partner and family will foster an incredible support system for combating PPD.
These people want to see you thrive and enjoy your new life with your baby, and with a close relationship will do anything to make that happen.
Family is the most important thing in life and having a close relationship with them not only allows you to feel supported but will be there to pick you up when you fall.
If you are experiencing unusual feelings and symptoms that could be associated with PPD, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I hope that this article helped highlight that and through social support, you can discover new ways of help and guidance for working through these challenges.
Whether it be your partner, family, support group, or next-door neighbour even, there is help out there, and don’t be afraid to ask!
Also, don’t say no either when someone offers help in whatever form it may be.
If you are considering professional support, I encourage you to take a 30-minute connection call with me to see how I may be able to help you in whatever way possible.
Through my empathetic offering with PPD or postpartum mood disorders, I would navigate you on a journey to a compelling future filled with love, confidence, and gratitude for your family.
Whatever it is you decide to do, understand that help is out there and you do not have to go through this alone. Social support is an amazing way to get started, now get after it and live the life you were meant to live!
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