Supporting Friends & Family after Childbirth

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Helping with friend's post partum blues

Sept 2006

My friend is having a tough time after the birth of her first baby. She recognizes it and is seeking help from her dr. I am looking for ideas about how to better understand what she is going through (books?). I have 2 children but it has been a while since I was a new mother. I do remember the sense of being overwhelmed, exhaustion, not being able to get anything done besides holding a cranky baby, etc. However, it all comes a little easier to me than my friend - just our wiring. I want to make sure I understand my friend so I can best support her. I am worried about giving too much advise because I know that can be irritating, but I also want to encourage her to take breaks away from her baby, using the good family support she has or hiring someone. I know that this is only one thing that will help, it isn't a fix all. She is in the Bay Area and I am long distance. Ideas for me or ideas for her would be great Worried Friend

This is a great book:
The most important thing for you to realize is that normal ''baby blues'' and exhaustion, etc. are NOT the same as real post-partum depression. While your suggestions sound very good, supportive, and appropriate for anyone, try to understand that it may not be simply a matter of it being a little easier for you, that the birth may have set off a serious, biochemical, mood disorder for her.

Depression of any kind is very hard if not impossible for anyone to understand who hasn't personally experienced it- there's simply no way to sufficiently describe it in words, and when someone is depressed their ability and energy for expression are impaired anyway. Don't expect to understand it if you haven't been in the same place yourself!

You're right in your instinct to not offer a lot of advice, she may not even have the energy and wherewithall to put much of it to use. I would say: listen to her with acceptance, praise her for seeking professional help and if she gets discouraged about it encourage her to keep seeking until she finds the help she needs, and give your friendship by simply being there for her and letting her know you are. Expect nothing of her right now, let her cry if she does.

The one other thing I can suggest from my own experience with depression is that it helped me when people (very subtly and undemandingly, not obviously or judgementally) boosted my sense of self by finding ways of reminding me who I am beyond being a depressed person. On the occasions when a friend was able to get me to laugh at some old story it was like medicine.

You sound like a very good friend, and that's priceless. anon

Supporting long-distance friend after birth of 2nd

Sept 2006

Hi, my closest friend lives in Los ANgeles and just had her 2nd child. I'm trying to figure out creative ways to give her and her husband some support long-distance since we can't show up with dinners and help clean her house or play with her toddler, etc. Does anyone have any ideas? Thanks

When my sisters-in-law gave birth to their children I organized a few of their friends to deliver dinner to them once a week for four weeks. Although they are only across the Bay I found that it would be difficult for me to make the trek to deliver dinner. I asked my brothers-in law for a few close friends' e-mail addy's and sent messages to everyone introducing myself and the proposed dinner delivery idea. I received a great response (one of my s-i-l circle of friends has continued the tradition of delivering meals after the birth of a child.) I hope this helps Not Shy
Diapers, diapers, and can never have enough! I'd suggest looking up Gift certificates are great! I'm sure your friend will appreciate it! She'll be extremely grateful for your thoughtfulness! Blessings! mommyof3
I've dealt with your problem many times. Here are some ideas: 1) Order them a raft of pre-made meals. I've ordered many new-baby family gift packs from These are very easy to make, look nice and according to my very picky gourmet friends, taste very good. I don't work for them, just found them in an internet search and it is awesome. They come packaged in special cases, go right in the freezer and boil in bag (fancy name in french is sou vide (sp?) or microwave. Totally easy.

2) If they don't have housecleaning already (and you can probably ask the father/partner), order some weeks of it for them. Merry Maids or some of the other services would do you fine. The will often clean the house and charge the services to you. Hope that helps long distance gift giver