Postpartum depression is the most common complication of childbirth. Even if you yourself feel great after giving birth, chances are very high that you know someone who will experience a maternal mood disorder.
Let me be frank: as a human being on Planet Earth, you already know tons of women who had postpartum depression, anxiety, OCD or some other fun maternal mental illness. Thanks to the stigma of mental illnesses, most of these women will conceal their diagnosis. Many of them will also never seek help and never receive a former diagnosis.
But let’s say you know a mom and she tells you that she has postpartum depression. Or, you hear it through the grapevine. and it’s public knowledge. And let’s say you want to do something nice for said mom. If you live near said mom, then there are lots of things you can do to help: bring a meal; take the baby out for a walk; or take mom to get a cup of coffee so she gets out of the house.
If you live far away, though, you might want to send a gift as a token of your support. But what?
- Flowers. Simple, beautiful, and touching. After I was hospitalized for postpartum depression, my Aunt Nancy visited and brought me flowers. The visit and flowers both meant a lot. I knew I was loved and knew someone was rooting for my recovery.
- Art supplies! When I was hospitalized, I discovered that art therapy energized me. My husband Nathan bought me crayons and coloring books so that I could continue the art therapy after my discharge. The fact that he bought the art supplies showed that he wanted me to continue doing things that helped me feel like my best self. Coloring books and pencils probably work best. No need to overwhelm mom with something elaborate or messy.
- A book about postpartum depression, such as Postpartum Depression for Dummies or my memoir Adventures with Postpartum Depression. Moms with postpartum depression often feel guilty about spending money on themselves, but they need information and stories to make a full recovery.
- A gift card for a local meal delivery service. Or, if you know what her favorite restaurant is, a gift card from there. Cooking dinner is overwhelming with a newborn. Throw in a bout of postpartum depression, and it can feel impossible.
- A notebook and pen for journaling. Writing is so therapeutic.
- A fancy fun To Do list, like this one. Postpartum depression zaps mama’s brain. Keeping lists helped me stay sane. I also felt an enormous wave of satisfaction every time I crossed something off my list.
Does a gift sound like too much work? Send a card! The cards I received when I had postpartum depression were very encouraging and helped me get through the darkest months of my life.