So you are bringing your child home from the hospital. What should you do to get ready? You should understand what it is your wife or girlfriend just went through. The birthing process may be a beautiful event in your and the mother's life, but it is also a traumatic experience for both you and the mother. As a soldier and as a firefighter I was taught to press through emotional issues for the good of the mission. In this case your job is to ensure that the mother is comfortable and able to focus on recovery and childcare. The next month will set the tone. The mother should not have to worry about laundry, dishes, or other trivial things. This is your time to shine.
You might notice some emotional issues. The mother might have what are called the "Baby Blues." The mother has gone through the equivalent of an ecstasy trip and is now in for the "letdown." When the mother is pregnant there are a whole host of chemical changes that result in emotional changes. After birth the emotional roller-coaster will start to turn south. It is your job to ensure that the mother is able to handle the emotional changes. If this is her first child, she might feel inadequate whenever something goes wrong. Make sure to encourage her and not point out mistakes in any judgmental ways. If she wants to cry, be there for her and support her. Remember that this is not as much an emotional thing as it is a hormonal thing. She is not sad necessarily because of anything that happened. She is simply sad. She might even say that she doesn't know why. This is natural. The key is to avoid having the blues turn into postpartum depression. PPD is an actual medical issue that needs treatment. Going without treatment can lead to long term depression and all the things associated with it. Because it may be hard to distinguish between the blues and Postpartum Depression, I will lay out the differences and some signs to look for then determining whether your wife or girlfriend has the blues or Postpartum Depression.
Postpartum Blues or "Baby Blues" usually last for a week or two after the birth of your child. The characteristic emotional symptoms can be mood swings, irritability, and insomnia. She may feel overwhelmed and might say things indicating such. The peak of the postpartum symptoms is usually four days after the birth, and usually subsides after two weeks. More than half of women report feeling the blues shortly after giving birth. Make sure to report any blue feelings she may have to a doctor. Most of all, use common sense, Use encouraging words to help her get through it. Tell her she is doing great and don't point out little errors that may be insignificant. Although you may be in a relationship where little jokes are normal, please watch what you say during this period. Things she normally might think is funny could make her feel devastated.
Postpartum Depression is a totally different issue. It is a medical condition that needs monitoring. The symptoms are essentially the same as the blues, except it doesn't go away. It seems to slowly build up over the next few months and peak about 3 to 4 months after birth. The mother can experience hopelessness, or suffer from anxiety. She might feel empty inside. Things she used to love to do might not interest her anymore. She might feel guilty or worthless with no real cause. As you can tell, the feelings just seem to get worse. Make sure you do not ignore mention of suicide or thoughts of harming the baby. Please consult a physician if you suspect the mother is suffering from Postpartum Depression. PPD is a treatable condition and there is no need to feel as if it is hopeless.