Friends & Family

How to be supportive when your friend or loved one is diagnosed with postpartum depression or related illness

How to be supportive

Friends and family– please know that your help can be invaluable to a family struggling with PPD. Even something small can go a long way. Here are some helpful hints on ways you can help and support both the mother and her family during this time.

  1. Listen to her and support her feelings. Avoid “should” or judgmental statements. Just being there to hear her struggles shows you care. Read the Myths of Motherhood to learn some of the misconceptions many people have.
  2. Tell her she is a good mom and use examples. Women with PPD need to hear this often.
  3. Encourage her to seek help (e.g., doctor, midwife, public health nurse, helpline, support group, counsellor).
  4. Ask her how you can help. She may not know, but it is important to ask. Including her partner in this step is very important. Helpful hints include:
    • Bringing a meal when you visit
    • Holding her baby
    • Offering to watch the baby while she takes a nap or showers
    • Offering to help bathe or feed the baby
    • Offering to babysit the older children
    • Helping her with light house cleaning (laundry, dishes) and helping with heavier housecleaning if she is not able (vacuuming, sweeping)
    • Offering to pick up her groceries
    • Offering the couple a “date night” to reconnect
    • Driving her to a doctor’s appointment or a support group
  5. Learn about her illness by looking through our Facts page. Know that PPD and related illnesses are the most common complication of childbirth and that it affects 1 in 8 families.
  6. Realize that PPD and related illnesses affect the whole family and offer her partner support too. Helpful hints include:
    • Offering to listen to her partner’s thoughts and feelings
    • Offering her partner a break for a couple hours when needed
    • Asking her partner how you can help him/her
    • Reminding her partner that PPD is temporary
    •  All the above helpful hints

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Things to say and things NOT to say to someone struggling with postpartum depression or a related illness

Things to Say

Things NOT to Say

“I will help you get through this”.“This should be the happiest time of your life”.
“I’m here for you”.“Snap out of it”.
“I know you feel awful, but I am so proud of you for getting help”.“You don’t need counselling. You don’t need medication. You just need to relax”.
“This isn’t your fault”.“You didn’t _________ again?! But you’ve been home all day”.
“You are a great mother” and give examples.“Mothering isn’t for everyone”.
“(child’s name) loves you!”“I don’t understand. You have so much to be grateful for”.
As she begins to recover tell her, “I can see you are starting to get better” and give examples.Do not compare her to another mom who is coping better after having a new baby.

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