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Middlesex-London Health Unit

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Helpful Tips for Family and Friends

Family and friends can be a vital part of recovery by offering support.


Pregnancy and parenting are not always what you expect…

  • Pregnancy is often seen as a time of joy and excitement, but this is not true for everyone.
  • The birth or adoption of a baby can bring physical, emotional and social changes. Adjustment to new roles and relationships is not always easy.

Depression and Anxiety Disorders are common in pregnancy and postpartum.

  • Up to 20% of women experience depression after having a baby.  Mood disorders, such as anxiety, are also common. Partners and children can struggle too.
  • It can affect anyone in the family!

Woman and/or partner may …

  • Feel sad or numb
  • Be tearful or cry a lot
  • Feel exhausted, but not able to sleep
  • Have changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Feel overwhelmed and can’t concentrate
  • Seek constant reassurance from others or the internet
  • Have no interest or pleasure in activities they used to enjoy
  • Feel hopeless or worthless
  • Feel restless, irritable or angry
  • Feel guilty and ashamed
  • Avoid spending time with family and friends
  • Have thoughts of hurting themselves or others
  • Have scary thoughts about the baby

If you believe your loved one is at risk of harming themselves, their baby or someone else, do NOT leave them alone. Take Action – Get Help!

How can you help?

Emotional Support

  • Share your concern and ask how you can help.
  • Be willing to listen and accept their feelings.
  • Provide reassurance and be supportive.
  • Offer encouragement about counselling and treatment.

Hands-on Support

  • Provide meals, do laundry or housework.
  • Help with grocery shopping or driving to appointments.
  • Offer to help arrange childcare.
  • Encourage time for rest or physical activities (i.e. go for a walk)

Informational Support

  • Learn about perinatal depression and anxiety disorders.
  • Learn about mental health community and crisis services.
  • Locate helpful information (i.e. on-line resources, support groups).
  • Offer or help find prenatal or postpartum education opportunities.

Community Support

  • Encourage seeing a healthcare professional.
  • Offer to attend medical appointments or support groups.
  • Encourage joining a support group.

What’s Not Helpful

  • Criticizing or judging.
  • Statements like “Snap out of it” or “You should be happy”.
  • Stopping by without calling first.
  • Blaming yourself or others.

*Adapted from Best Start: Creating Circles of Support, January 2010

Date of creation: December 1, 2017
Last modified on: April 27, 2023