How to support a mother with PND – some helpful tips for friends and family.

  • Learning to listen and focus on the mother with PND is probably the best thing you can do. It is important to listen without intervening at inappropriate moments and without putting your own point of view across.
  • Remember that she may feel overwhelmed and confused and lacking in concentration but give her time to gather her thoughts and try not speak over her. Also, reflecting back to her can be helpful.
  • Say it is normal to feel like this and let her know that PND is extremely common – it happens to approximately 1:7 mothers to various degrees. Reassure her that these feelings will decrease with time and eventually go as she recovers. Remind her that does she know of anyone who doesn’t recover from PND?
  • Reassure her that things will get better and it is OK to feel like this as after all she has just had a baby. Point out that given the right treatment and support she will recover although it may take time. It may also be helpful for her to know that many mothers are experiencing similar feelings, even though they are not depressed. 
  • Encourage her to focus on the positive things in her life. Perhaps even though she can’t see it now it will all be worth it in the end. Tell her that you have a child for a life time and that these feelings are just temporary. Most mothers with PND have very negative thoughts and feelings of failure, inadequacy, inability to cope etc. Try to encourage her to see the things that she is able to cope with and tell her that these will become more and more as she recovers. It may help her to keep a diary of her good and bad days allowing her to see a pattern in her recovery,
  • Try not judge her feelings and thoughts. They may be irrational or unreal to you but very real and possibly frightening for her. Being non judgemental is accepting and creating a safe environment for her to open up her feelings. Even if the mother says something that you are shocked by try not to show those but say something like ‘that must be very frightening for you’ to acknowledge her feelings.
  • Most of all is really important to tell her that the conversations you have together are in strict confidence. You want to reassure her that you can be trusted, making it safe for her to open up to you.

I haven’t met Louise face to face yet she has been amazing to talk things through on the telephone. She is understanding, empathetic and most importantly has helped to normalise this experience for me. At times I felt like I was going mad but Louise’s firsthand experience helped me to realise I wasn’t and that there was some hope. Good luck to anyone reading this and use all the support to help you through the difficult time.

Jo, Gloucestershire

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