New Motherhood: Family's role when the mother has a psychiatric illness

New Motherhood: Family's role when the mother has a psychiatric illness

White Swan Foundation

Whether the mother has developed a psychiatric illness during childbirth or has an existing illness, the time after childbirth is when she needs most support, both physically and emotionally. Her family can help her care better for her baby and take care of her as well.

  • The family and the spouse often distance themselves from the new mother when they learn that she has a psychiatric illness. This stems from ignorance. Understand her illness by talking to the psychiatrist and see how you can help her get past it, or manage the illness.

  • Domestic violence is a strict no-no and is never the solution.

  • If the new mother has trouble bonding with her child, don’t push her towards it. She requires time to bond with baby.

  • Be supportive and understand her emotional ups and downs.

  • Plan the breastfeeding time of the baby according to the medication of the mother.

  • Ensure that the baby is well fed and is being immunized as per plan.

  • Educate yourself and your family regarding the postpartum mental health problems.

  • Maintain regular follow up with the treating team and clarify your doubts.

  • During home care, look for warning signs of symptoms. Learn about them from your treating team.

  • Discuss the plan for next baby with the psychiatrist and the gynecologist.

  • In the rare cases that the mother is violent towards the child, care for the baby and plan the mother’s access to the baby by discussing it with the psychiatrist.

Take time out to address your own emotional turbulence. Caring for a newborn in addition to a person with a mental illness can be exhausting. Your psychiatrist may be able to refer you to a support group. You can also speak to a counselor who can help you structure your thoughts.

White Swan Foundation