Helping a new mum
April 2, 2011 2:41 AM Subscribe
How do I help a friend who may or may not have post-natal depression, but is definitely having a rough time due to babies not being well or sleeping? I am not able to pop in for visits to help with babysitting, housework, etc but there must be something else I can do to help, surely?
posted by harriet vane to human relations (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Lately when I call to chat, she seems either depressed or anxious, comparing herself to other mums who *appear* to have problem-free children.
Things attempted or rejected already:
- babysitting: I live too far away to make this practical, and I suspect she doesn't want to disrupt their attempts at establishing sleeping/eating patterns and routines. Also she probably doesn't want to leave me with a sick or crying child (even though I wouldn't mind and would gladly do it if I lived closer).
- providing food: she's currently on an elimination diet under supervision of a dietician, as part of trying to work out the health issues.
- supportive listening: I've been trying to call for unpressured chats, but between the sick kids, randomly-popping-in relatives (who are believers in the 'just get over it' school of psychology) and all the doctor's appointments, we don't get much time. When we do, I feel unable to give reassurance or advice that doesn't sound completely vague, since I'm not a mother myself.
Also I think the phone calls just remind her that we haven't been in touch as much as we used to be pre-kids, and she feels the need to apologise to me for that. I don't care, these things ebb and flow and her plate is currently full. But if I do call, I feel like I've just given her another reason to beat herself up because she used to be the one to initiate phone calls.
The only thing that's helped so far is when I told her about the serious problems another mother we know was having. I think it made her feel like she wasn't the only one having so much trouble with her kids.
She is getting practical help from an early parenting group who specialise in dealing with the health and sleep issues her babies have got. Everyone says they're a fantastic group so I'm not worried that she'll be lacking medical help.
I'm just feeling helpless and wanting to help someone who's been there for me in the past. Am I just in the way? If so, I'll back off. I'd love advice from any parents who've been in a similar situation - what did your friends do that helped during a difficult time?