Very confused and nervous
August 30, 2012 8:34 PM Subscribe
How do I support my friend with postpartum depression without being judgmental, even though I am sometimes concerned about her baby?
posted by Sock of Silliness to human relations (32 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This friend and I don't live in the same city anymore, so all of our contact is over email and phone. While she was pregnant, and had her baby, we had been talking less (which I thought was because of all the changes in her life) so I didn't know at first that anything was wrong.
A few months after the baby was born, we had the first long conversation that we had had in a while. I was asking about the baby, and she sounded really hesitant and a bit unhappy in her replies. I kept expressing concern and she slowly revealed more and more things. She said that when she had the baby she felt like something was wrong. She just wanted to give the baby back. She didn't want to hold the baby or breastfeed her. She saw her as ugly and annoying.
I said that I think those feelings are pretty common in a lot of new moms, even if not everyone talks about them. I asked her if she thought about counseling and she said she was seeing a therapist, even though the therapist doesn't specialize in PPD. So, given she was already seeing a therapist and PPD has already been identified as an issue, I thought it was pretty clear what my role was as a friend, to let her know that I supported her and wasn't judging her, and that I cared about her and how she was doing.
But the problem is that lately she has been telling me things that make me worried for her baby. That sometimes she just doesn't want to be around him so she will just leave him outside by himself and go do things by herself in the house. That she avoids holding him, and sometimes she won't hold him until her boyfriend gets home in the evenings and gets upset when she doesn't want to touch him.
Some of these things just make me concerned for the baby. I just feel uneasy. It is easy to be 100% supportive when someone is having PPD thoughts but they are still caring for their baby the same as they normally would. Even if someone with PPD had the most negative thoughts ever towards their baby, I wouldn't judge that. But when the person is actually acting on their PPD thoughts, that makes it a bit scarier for me. It makes me feel like I should express SOME kind of concern. But I am torn because the last thing I want to do is be yet another person who is trying to shame mothers and tell them what do to.
How should I be approaching this as a friend?