Part of my approach in dealing with post natal depression is to get the woman away from the kids for a while. The two suggestions that I usually offer the woman are:
a) Put the child in childcare for a while.
b) That she try to get some work, part-time or full time.
The purpose of these two suggestions is to give the woman some pscyhological "breathing space" from the children. A place where she doesn't have to think about them constantly; some time where she can have to herself.
Now, with regard to childcare, I'm not particular concerned as to how she arranges things. If she has family supports, I'm quite happy for her to use them. But it's quite surprising to note just how many grandmothers do not want to take that role on, even for a few days. Some grandmothers are quite happy initially but then become resentful after a while. It would appear that many grandmothers, i.e older women are not keen to look after children when given a second chance. Once again the natural maternal instinct seems to be somewhat deficient in these women, and once again it would seem to refute the traditionalist idea that women naturally want to care for children, even their own.
On the other hand, there are plenty of grandparents who can get enough of the children, but this again would seem to confirm the idea that some women are naturally maternal where others are not.
My biggest problem in getting women to put their children in child care is other women: Particularly, natural mothers. That is women to whom motherhood is a constant joy. The problem here is that these women continually drop snide remarks toward those who put their children in child care. Women, being social animals, are far more sensitive to these remarks than men and are constantly on the defensive with regard to their reputation amongst other women. The net result is that a woman with post natal depression wants to get some space from the kids but feels guilty for wanting to.
The is a lot of contradictory evidence with regards to the benefits of child care. Personally I regard it as neutral. However the question that needs to be asked is, Do women with PND look after their children as well as a child care center? Several studies suggest not. The assumption, that the best care available to a child is by their mother, would appear to be wrong in some instances. A woman having a hard time off coping with her children is probably better off putting her child in child care.
If a woman's natural place is in the home, looking after the children, then it would seem to imply that women should possess the natural temperament to look achieve this. The reality is that a lot of women find looking after children highly stressful, stressful to the point that PND ensures. Some women aren't meant to stay at home with the kids.
Of course the charge is levied that these women are somehow deficient: They are selfish, ignore their children, don't love them etc. Some of them are. But the majority stick at job of motherhood till they drive themselves into the ground and reluctantly into my office. Most of them are embarrassed and ashamed that they can't cope and have arrived as a last resort after a prolonged and valiant effort. I have to pry them away from the myth that it all should come naturally to them: A myth perpetrated by Traditionalists.
From the above it would seem to imply that women can be divided into two groups; those who are natural mothers and those who are not. When in reality it's a spectrum with the two poles being the extremes. Most women are somewhere in between. It's this heterogeneity of temperament which probably explains Catherine Hakim's Preference Theory.