Sister with PPA - Help! — The Bump
Postpartum Depression

Sister with PPA - Help!

So, my sister gave birth 7 days ago to an absolutely beautiful little boy.  The last few days have been really rough for her.  She's experiencing anxiety, nausea, & the shakes which makes it really hard for her to sleep, which makes the other symptoms worse.  She had a Dr. appt. yesterday & they diagnosed her with PPA and prescribed Zoloft.  They also had her see a counselor who informed her that the Zoloft may not start working for several weeks.  So, they are trying some different sleep medications to at least help her get some sleep. 

My question is what can I do to help?  I've been texting or calling her just about everyday just to let her know I'm thinking of her.  I've been offering to bring her food or watch the baby or run errands. Sometimes she opens up and tells me how she's feeling and accepts my help & other times she just says she's tired & wants to get off the phone.  I definitely don't want to add more stess on her, so I'm trying to just back off and let her come to me.  But I'm scared. I really want her to know how much we love her & I don't want her to feel ashamed or embarrassed about how she's feeling. 

Any advice you can give about how to ensure she gets help & just how to be a good sister to her during this would be greatly appreciated!

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Re: Sister with PPA - Help!

  • I know with my PPD I didn't want anyone around except my mom and even then my mom kind of forced herself over to make sure I was okay.

    The best thing my mom told me was to get up every day and shower. Then she told me to take everything one step at a time and I did. I would feed the baby, do some dishes, etc. and I made sure to get out of the house once a day...even if I just stepped on teh porch for a couple minutes.

    I think you are doing the right thing by backing off...but never stop checking on her. offering to watch the LO is awesome. I loved when my mom would come over and straighted up and she put the baby's room in order. I also loved consistency. Every Tuesday night my mom would come over and I could do whatever I wanted...go out, sit on the porch, see a friend, sleep, or just sit with my mom and the baby. i loved knowing I could count on that Tuesday night ( my mom works so it probably would have been more often).

    I think everyone deals with there PPD and PPA differently. If you want to see what she is sorta going through you can read brook sheilds book.

    We want help but then again, we don't want to feel ashamed that we can't do is such a rollercoaster.

    Ugh, I probably wasn't very helpful...maybe get her the brook shields book...It helped me so much.

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  • Keep checking on her, keeping being supportive, keep being a person that listens and hugs.  Like vicky said, it's great to have someone come over to do some of the little chores.  I loved it when someone was on baby duty so I caould take a nap (I had a hard time napping when the baby napped, with all the shifting, smacking and other noices, I just couldn't turn off my brain to fall asleep). 

    Your sister may want you to back off, like vicky is suggesting, but I'd like to recommend you try something else, at least once.  If you are on the phone and she sounds really down and tired, just tell her that you are coming over.  Sometimes I was just so exhausted that I didn't want to cry over the phone to someone, but just having someone around was a great comfort, though I woulnd't ask for it - feeling like it would be a burden.  Maybe try that and see how she responds.  If she gives you the stink eye, back away!

    If you are available, offer to watch the baby while she goes to the counselor or runs errands.  Or invite her to go out to lunch.  my first trips out of the house with the baby were with my mom or M-I-L.  I would never have done it on my own, but it felt good.

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  • Thank you both for the advice.  I will definitely look into the Brook Shields book.  I've heard of it, but never read it. 

    I'm also glad to hear that it's a good idea to at least try once being a little forceful and going over to help.  I wondered if she was feeling afraid to ask or maybe even feeling like she was a failure if she asked for help.  I know I felt that way when my son was born, and I didn't have the added struggle of PPA/PPD.  She doesn't seem to have any interest in leaving the house just yet, but I will definitely let her know that I'll watch baby if she wants to try that. 

    I just want to make sure above all that she knows I'm 100% there for her, in whatever way she needs.  Even if what she needs is me backing off.  My biggest fear right now is that I will say or do something that is the "wrong" thing and then she won't want to talk to/see me.  I guess as a loved one, I have to take the advice of taking it one thing at a time too. 

    Thanks again for reading & making suggestions, I really appreciate knowing that my sis isn't the only one out there going through this. 

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  • PP mentioned consistancy. PPA is different from PPD, and consistancy will go a looooong ways to helping her anxiety lessen. I have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder for a long time, and had PPD with DD.

    Be consistant. Yes, back off a bit, if you think you need to. But set a pattern with her. Call every day around the same time to check in, offer to come over once a week to help out, be it giving her free time, helping clean or making dinner for the family. Same day, every week. Help her set herself an easy, managable routine. A routine will have to be changable because of LO, but it is doable.


    wake up. feed baby, feed self, shower. Nap#1, sit, enjoy some tea and a good book or nap too. These are things she can do with LO in her lap, or in the crib. Nap#1 finishes, baby usually eats again. I did lots of TV watching and reading in the first 2 months. Household chores were second to my sanity and babies comfort.

    Baby can sit in a bouncer, or in a moby wrap on mommy as a newborn. Tell mommy to talk to baby lots, it focus' her mind on baby and not on aaaaalll those things she wants to get done as a "super mom". My anxiety attacks always happened if I started thinking about everything that just "needed" to get done. which of course, most things dont actually need to get done all at once. Also baby crying triggered them, so she will need help, regularly.

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  • I actually talked to her tonight & since I have the next 2 1/2 weeks off work I'm going to go over to help/give her a break/talk every few days.  Maybe I'll suggest we set a consistent time every other day. Her MIL and my mom both also want to help, so maybe between the three of us we can get a schedule set for after I go back to work too. 

    I really like the suggestion of a flexible routine.  After talking with her tonight it sounds like one of the biggest things worrying her is her husband going back to work next week. If she has a set routine that may give her more confidence that she can handle this. 

    Thank you everyone again for sharing.  It is really appreciated!

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