What Husbands Can Do When Their Wives Have Postpartum Depression

When your wife has postpartum depression (PPD), which affects about 1 in 7 women after childbirth, you might feel confused, annoyed, scared, sad, worried or any combination of these. My husband certainly did. You might be thinking, “Why can’t she just be happy? What’s wrong with her? Aren’t new moms supposed to be happy now that the baby’s finally here? What’s going on?”

Remember that PPD is a biochemical disorder which is no one’s fault – not yours or hers. Although you can’t fix it like you can a broken cabinet or leaky faucet, it’s your job to support her as she recovers. Warning signs of PPD include anxiety, lack of energy, frequent crying, inability to sleep at night even when the baby’s sleeping, low self-esteem, guilt feelings, appetite problems, irritability or anger, overwhelmed feelings, forgetfulness, decreased sex drive, and hopelessness. The normal Baby Blues should be gone by two weeks postpartum, so if she’s still feeling weepy, she needs help. Or, if the symptoms are more severe than the mild Baby Blues even during the first two weeks, don’t wait – get her help right away. You or she should call a healthcare practitioner you trust and ask for a referral to a therapist who specializes in postpartum depression.

Here are some pointers that will help you to help her and your relationship: (Excerpts from Beyond the Blues: A Guide to Understanding and Treating Prenatal and Postpartum Depression by Bennett and Indman)

Just being there with her is doing a great deal.

Letting her know you support her is often all she’ll need. Ask her what words she needs to hear for reassurance, and say those words to her often. Things like, “We’ll get through this. I’m here for you. I love you very much. You’re a great mom. The baby loves you. You’ll get yourself back. The PPD is temporary. I’m sorry you’re suffering – that must feel awful. This isn’t your fault.”

Share at-home responsibilities.

Even a non-depressed new mom can’t realistically be expected to cook dinner and clean house. She may be guilt-tripping herself about not measuring up to her own expectations and worrying that you’ll also be disappointed with her. Remind her that parenting your child(ren) and taking care of your home is also your job, not just hers. Your relationship will emerge from this crisis stronger than ever.

Let her sleep at night.

She needs at least 5 hour of uninterrupted sleep per night to receive a full sleep cycle and restore her biorhythms (Chapter 11 of Postpartum Depression For Dummies* explains in detail how splitting the night can work even if she’s breastfeeding or you need to leave the house early for work.) If you want your wife back quicker, be on duty for this time without disturbing her. Many dads have expressed how much closer they are to their children because of nighttime caretaking. If you can’t be up at night taking care of your baby, hire someone who can take your place. A temporary baby nurse will be worth her weight in gold.

Get the support you need so you can be there for her.

Often a husband becomes depressed during or after his wife’s depression. You can help protect yourself by getting your own support from friends, family, or professionals. Regular exercise or other stress-relieving activity is important, so you can remain the solid support for your wife. Provide a stand-in support person for her while you’re gone. o Don’t take it personally. Irritability is common with PPD. Don’t allow yourself to become a verbal punching bag. It’s not healthy for anyone concerned. She feels guilty after saying hurtful things to you and it’s not good for her. If you feel you didn’t deserve to be snapped at, calmly explain that to her. (Excerpts from Postpartum Depression For Dummies by Bennett)

Back her up in her decision- making.

If your wife needs to see various practitioners, take medication, join a PPD support group, stop breastfeeding, or whatever else, she needs to know you’re behind her 100 percent. You can certainly participate in the decision-making process, but the decisions themselves are ultimately hers. It can be helpful for you to accompany her to a therapy or doctor’s appointment so you can ask any questions you may have regarding her treatment. As a therapist, I find the partner’s attendance useful and I encourage it at least once. My client is always relieved to know that her husband is getting support and now understands more about her situation and the illness. o Don’t mention how much her care costs. She’s already feeling guilty about what she’s costing the family, both emotionally and financially. Without your wife’s mental health in tact, nothing else matters. During PPD recovery, couples may use up savings and take out loans – consider it an investment in launching your new family in a healthy way. Be open to doing (and spending) whatever it takes to get her the right, specialized help, not just whoever is covered by the insurance plan.

Practice the work/life balance.

You’ve probably read your employee handbook about your company’s work/life balance program. Now’s the time to make it work for you. Tell your manager what’s going on at home, that you need to leave work every evening on time, and that you can’t take expended business trips for the foreseeable future. You may see this practice as career suicide, but it isn’t. Many of my clients’ husbands have taken parental leave, and have made the effort to be at home on time every night during this difficult period. Federal law provides husbands job-protected time off from work following the birth of a baby or to care for a seriously ill spouse. If you’re a domestic partner, it depends on the state in which you live whether or not you’ll be covered. If necessary, go ahead and move off the corporate fast track to help your partner recover. Your physical presence to her is more important than the next promotion, and years from now, when you look back on your life, you’ll never regret having chosen family over work. I hear over and over from my clients that they don’t care about the big house (with the big mortgage). They just want their husbands at home. So, if you’re thinking that it’s for her and your kids that you’re working long hours, traveling, and so forth, you may want to ask her what she thinks – you many be surprised.

Maintain intimacy.

As you and your wife walk the road to recovery, it’s important to maintain intimacy, even if it’s (for now) void of any sexual activity. You may be rolling your eyes with the thought of “just cuddling.” After all, what’s the point of cuddling if it doesn’t lead to anything? But for her, just being close to you and being held by you is comforting and healing. She may also have some physical healing to do following the birth process. Remember not to take her lack of interest in sex personally. This isn’t a rejection of you – it’s mainly about hormones, brain chemicals, and life changes. If you’re the one returning from work at the end of the day, make sure you greet your wife first, before you greet any other member of the family (including the furry, four-legged ones). The relationship with her is the most important one and without it, no other little person would be there (see Chapter 15 for other sex and intimacy issues). Refer to the first bullet for ideas of what to say to your wife that will truly help her.

There are also some clear no-no’s to avoid. Here are a few: DO NOT say:

“Think about everything you have to feel happy about.” She already knows everything she has to feel happy about. One of the reasons she feels so guilty is that she’s depressed despite these things.

“Just relax.” This suggestion usually produces the opposite effect! She’s already frustrated at not being able to relax in spite of all the coping mechanisms that have worked in the past. Anxiety produces hormones that can cause physical reactions such as increased heart rate, shakiness, and muscle tension. This is not something she can just will away.

“Snap out of it.” If she could, she would have already. She wouldn’t wish this on anyone. She can’t snap out of PPD any easier than she can snap out of the flu. Be patient, non-judgmental, and upbeat. With the right kind of professional help along with your consistent and loving support, your wife will recover and your marriage will likely be stronger than ever.

Dental Insurance – Avail Now or Repent later

No one can deny the fact that life in today’s times has become very expensive. So much so that one is forced to live strictly within one’s budget. Any unplanned or unexpected expenditure is of extreme annoyance and difficulty for any middle class household. However, no matter how difficult it might prove to be, truth is that in everyone’s life a time comes when he has to face such predicament. The trouble gets even more compounded if it is concerned with one’s health for then it is a cause that simply cannot be overlooked. And if one cannot arrange for the expenses then the plight of the individual concerned can simply be understood.

It is here that insurance companies make their presence felt and relieves one from all types of worries and tensions. The biggest advantage of insurance is that all the expenses are taken care of by the insurance company and the concerned individual is spared from spending any amount of his hard earned money. Indeed insurance can be termed as one of the most potent weapon to fight calamity and uncertainty with.

Out of all the insurances available to people medical insurance can be termed as the one most important, and it is not difficult to understand why. Health, after all, is the most precious thing for everyone and no one likes to play with it. And in case of expensive treatments all the expenses are borne by the insurance company and the individual gets first class treatment at no expense from his side.

Then again it is not that insurance company covers serious illnesses alone. Minor ailments are also taken care of by them. Dental insurance is the classic example of illnesses falling under this category. Though dental problem is considered to be a minor illness because it is not as serious as heart problem yet people who suffer from it only know how painful it can get. No doubt it needs immediate medical attendance and though the cost involved is not that great yet one has to cough up money and one will only be obliged if he is not forced to spend his hard earned money. Which is what the insurance companies do and which is what makes their service so popular and important.

No Child Left Behind is Teaching Students How to Cheat on Mastery Tests – A Lesson Well Learned

Although I usually write about news that has to do with new books or reading, this will be somewhat of a digression to education due to the recent state of affairs in Connecticut. This news was disturbing enough that allowances had to be made.

For the past several years, teachers in Connecticut, have been spending large amounts of time preparing their students on how to take the Connecticut Mastery Tests (CAT) for younger students and the Connecticut Academic Performance Tests (CAPT) for older students. (This is no different than teachers across the country who are doing the same.) With everything else they have to squeeze into a day, they have to stop teaching actual subject matter and start teaching how to take tests. As a result, their students spend valuable time learning how to take tests, such as multiple choice. This way they are better prepared for the CMT and CAPTs when administered.

Teachers have no choice in this matter. They know that students’ performance on these tests, and therefore their performance on teaching these tests, is a very high priority in the state. Why? The “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) Act. In Connecticut, in order to meet the performance standards required under the federal NCLB Act of 2001, schools have to meet “adequate yearly progress” (AYP). This is based on, no surprise, how the students do on the CAT and CAPT tests. If the school does not pass, then it is labeled as “in need of improvement.” Regardless of what the financial ramifications are to this designation, no school wants to report to its constituency that it is “in need of improvement.”

Given the tremendous disparity between the quality of education in this country, and the unfortunate situation in many schools across the nation, changes do need to be made. However, NCLB is doing more harm than good. First, as noted above, the trend is now teaching to test. The public pressure on students, teachers, principals, and school superintendents to higher scores on tests is enormous, and the tendency to restrict instruction to only that which will be tested is almost irresistible.

If this is not bad enough, there were a couple of additional items of interest in Connecticut recently that add to the negative results. First, students are being made to think that they are more than accountable for their results on the test. Parents talk about elementary school children who are physically ill because they are so worried about these tests-if they do poorly, what will their teacher or parents think? Teachers are afraid for their jobs. Just this week, and this is what finally led to this article, two students actually cheated on their CAPT, because their high school now stipulates if a student does not pass the CAPT, he/she will not graduate. What kind of lessons are students learning?

A couple of weeks before the CAPTs were held in this high school, all parents and students received a letter regarding the importance of testing, the daily testing schedule and the need to eat well and get plenty of rest before the testing days. It appears that no one cares about how well the students eat and sleep the other hundreds of days in the school year. Just make sure these students are fed well and put to sleep early on the day before the tests. That’s the way to go by the book, these days.

Using Chemotherapy to Treat Cancer – Is There a Better Way?

These days people spend more money then ever for prescription drugs and it seems for every health problem doctors suggest some kind of a drug. So if doctors suggest drugs for most health problems, then certainly these drugs should be very effective, right? Well, if you think about how many people are using chemotherapy to treat cancer and how many people beat cancer with it, then it is clear that drugs do not work very well.

Money and power are the main driving forces behind the production of drugs. The goal for drug companies is to make as much profits as possible, because it is all a business. The more people are ill, the more potential customers there are. Treating cancer with chemotherapy is a great way to make money.

Big drug companies make the rules and break the rules. What ever they decide is the best way to treat cancer stays that way and other cancer treatment options, that are a lot of safer and much more effective are neglected. The reason why natural and alternative treatments for cancer are not in the mainstream, is not because they are not working, but because you can not patent nature.

When you can not patent something, then you also can not make money. But you can make huge amount of profits selling drugs, that are patented, the problem is getting worse all the time. Most Americans use some kind of a prescription drug and therefore drug companies make a lot of money with it.

If you want to find other ways to treat cancer, besides chemotherapy, then you got to do your own research. People have to stand up for their rights and use treatments that are the most effective and safe, not what is forced upon them.