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15 Things New Moms Don't Know About Postpartum Anxiety

There is a good reason that no one ever said that having a baby is a piece of cake. The only thing relatable to that statement is that pregnant women want to eat all the cake possible because of their cravings, hormones, and anxieties that come with being pregnant.

Of course, the fun and games of pregnancy don’t end up after giving birth. In fact, this is where things can get even more stressful and chaotic for new mothers. There is nothing easy about bringing a new baby home and of course there are going to be endless pressures.

Unfortunately, women often don’t realise just how incredibly amazing they are. Juggling their body recovery, raising a new baby, and finding their new identity as a mom is anything but a walk in the park. It is allowed to be a difficult and challenging time. However, these challenges, rather than being taken as something to boost the self-esteem, often bring anxious and negative thoughts to women.

Postpartum anxiety is very common. It is a terrible thing to go through and no new mom deserves to have these negative thoughts attacking her mind. Postpartum anxiety is actually very different to postpartum depression, and there are many others things you probably didn’t know about it too!

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15 It Can Manifest In Different Ways

The thing with any type of anxiety is that it is an umbrella term. This means that it covers a lot of different symptoms that manifest in different ways for individuals. For any type of anxiety, one person’s experience is totally dissimilar to another’s. This is very much the case for postpartum anxiety.

Basically, every woman is going to be affected differently by her pregnancy and the feelings that come with it. The way her body changes, her hormones change, and ultimately her life changes brings forth different emotions depending on personalities. Therefore, postpartum can pop its ugly head up in different ways. Some women might get panic attacks, some might start exhibiting OCD behaviours, and others might have constant thoughts of self-doubt. It is like the worst surprise package ever!

14 Going Back To Basics Helps 

Newborn baby is sleeping peacefully on the mother's abdomen

It is hard to say whether there is a ‘remedy’ or a ‘cure’ for postpartum anxiety. Since it manifests in different ways and has no specific time frame, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for this nasty little devil. However, there are many things that women can do to help themselves. These include things that are easily forgotten when anxiety riddles the brain.

For instance, things like getting a good night's sleep, eating healthy, and exercising regularly are actually anxiety’s worst enemies. Of course, these are the things that pregnancy impacts heavily on, which is why postpartum anxiety is so common. While these things are important, you shouldn’t put pressure on yourself or feel guilty if you don’t sleep well or don’t exercise (that’s what the anxiety wants!). Rather, just be happy with yourself when you do go for a walk or when you eat an apple over the chocolate. These things help to shut down anxiety.

13 Learning To Breathe Again Is Important

One thing that anxiety tries to take away from someone is the ability to breathe clearly and rationally. When anxious thoughts race around in the mind, it is harder and harder to focus on breathing. This is doubly frustrating since a deep, calm breath can be enough to rid the mind of anxiousness and focus again.

Therefore, if you are experiencing postpartum anxiety or are prone to it, taking breathing time will help a lot. Signing up for meditation and yoga classes or using youtube videos online is something really worth investing it. It sounds like it should be easy, but the art of breathing is something that you’ll never take for granted again after experiencing postpartum anxiety. Once breathing is under control, it is much easier to make rational and calm decisions about daily things, especially relating to the baby.

12 A Natural Response To Protect The Baby

Anxiety is terribly ironic in a lot of its actions. In the case of postpartum anxiety, it is actually a natural response to protect and care for the newborn baby. Of course, postpartum anxiety just blows this response well out of proportion.

So basically, there is a new baby. As a new mom, you want to nurture, tend to, and dote upon this new precious life. In doing so, you want things to be perfect. A rational, non-anxious brain knows that perfection isn’t achievable, especially with a baby. However, a brain affected by postpartum anxiety desires this perfection even though it is unachievable. Therefore, the anxiety starts putting more and more pressure you on you to everything right, for the sake of the baby. Even though you’re not doing anything wrong to start with!

11 Understand It To Overcome It

So when people experience anxiety, they have different reactions to it. For instance, one new mom might have a panic attack when her baby won’t stop crying. This might make her cry as well. Another mom might feel obsessive about cleaning her baby’s changing table and become fixated and frustrated if she can’t get a stain out. There are different reactions to each form of anxiety.

Taking time to understand these reactions is a step forward in overcoming postpartum anxiety. For instance, if you can’t stop obsessively cleaning the changing table and it makes you anxious if it’s dirty, acknowledge this. Tell your partner or a friend that it is driving you insane. Talk through why it frustrates you so much and why it is so important to you. Expressing anxious reactions can help to silence them.

10 It Is NOT The Same As PPD

Just as anxiety and depression are not the same kettle of fish, postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression are two very different ball games. It is hard to define what each one is since they look so very different in everyone’s experience, but basically anxiety makes the mind race and over-think while depression takes away the will and motivation to thrive through the day.

What this means in terms of postpartum is that depression makes everyday a struggle in that you don’t want to do anything at all. Anxiety makes it a struggle in that you want to do everything and anything and you want it all to be perfect. Both postpartum anxiety and depression have their own challenges and barricades to face, but it should be known that they are very incomparable.

9 It Hides Under Frustrations Of Motherhood

Becoming a mom, whether for the first, second, or third time is always going to be overwhelming and life-changing. This is because it literally changes every element of the daily routine and schedule that once was. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging that this is frustrating. Unfortunately, these frustrations can often mask the symptoms of postpartum anxiety.

Many women suffer from postpartum anxiety without even knowing that that is what it is. Rather, they feel frustrated and annoyed that they aren’t ‘achieving’ what they should be (note: new moms are achieving more than enough just by getting out of the bed and having a healthy and happy baby!). These frustrations mask anxiety, and in turn anxiety feeds the frustrations so that they grow even bigger. It is a vicious cycle, unfortunately.

8 Hormones Play Their Part In It

Of course, if there is something going on with the body, hormones are going to have their say. Just like the hormones change during menstruation and bring on mood swings and emotive reactions, the hormonal changes after pregnancy trigger something in the brain, and in some cases it can be postpartum anxiety.

Keeping in mind that so many hormones change and rage around the body during pregnancy, you have to excuse them for causing havoc on their way out as well. With hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, the levels rise dramatically during those 9 months of pregnancy. When they fall after pregnancy, they also bring a fall to the brain stimulation. This can lead to negative effects in some cases depending on the individual’s experience, such as postpartum anxiety.

7 Certain Women Are More Susceptible

This isn’t to say that one type of personality is more prone to anxiety than another, but there are some people who can be more susceptible. These are the people who have experienced anxiety before having a baby or have suffered from other mental health conditions. There is nothing to be ashamed of with this.

In terms of personality, postpartum anxiety is more likely to find its way towards people who are nervous, unsure, and carry a lot of self doubt on their shoulders. These are what anxiety loves, and new motherhood does bring this out. If you do feel you are prone to these, it is advisable to put strategies in place before the baby is born. After the baby is born, making sure you talk to people and express your concerns can help keep anxiety at bay.

6 It Can Hinder Bonding With The Baby

Unfortunately, anxiety takes up a lot of time, both mentally and emotionally. This space it takes up in the mind impacts on the physical space as well. Having anxiety means that more time is consumed thinking about these worrying things. This is, to say the least, entirely exhausting.

However, when there is a baby in the picture, this also needs a lot of time and attention. To bond and create that important relationship, time and space is needed, in a both a physical and mental presence. If postpartum anxiety gets in the way, this can detract from the bonding experience. Of course, this is a double edged sword as you then risk becoming anxious about not bonding with the baby! Ugh! This is the best reason to say no to postpartum anxiety and get it under control!

5 Mom's "Mistakes" Trigger It

If there is one thing all new moms can attest to, it is the fact that those first few weeks, months, even years are riddled with mistakes left, right, and centre. We aren’t taught enough in school that mistakes are glorious learning moments and they give us the chance to grow and develop. This needs to be drilled into new moms’ brains so that postpartum anxiety doesn’t get a chance to rear its ugly head.

Mistakes are inevitable. Babies don’t come with guidebooks. As much as people write articles and blogs and books about tips for caring for baby and things to expect and blah blah blah, none of it compares or prepares to actually bringing a baby home from the hospital. Of course some things aren’t going to go right. What even is right when raising a baby? Anxiety has no right to intervene here, that’s for sure!

4 It Can Crush The Excitement Of Motherhood

Anxiety is, as the name suggests, a fun crushing monster who doesn’t want anyone to enjoy anything without feeling stressed and worried. What this means in terms of new motherhood is that it is totally unfair. As messy and scary and nerve-wrecking as bringing a baby home is, it is an experience that should be enjoyed and cherished. After all, this is literally a one-off experience with this baby.

It is completely rude, then, that the excitement of new motherhood can be crushed under the weight of anxiety. This is why it is so important that new moms recognise what is making them anxious and acknowledge that. The sooner that is done, the sooner the concerns are voiced, the sooner anxiety can be crushed down to the size it deserves. And the excitement of motherhood can rise above!

3 It Sends The Mind Racing

A classic trait of anxiety of any type is that it makes the brain over-think. It makes the victim think that they are not doing enough, not achieving enough, and not making the most out of their time. Of course, in terms of new motherhood, moms are definitely doing enough on a daily basis, thanks very much anxiety.

When the mind is racing on any given day, things are stressful and you get distracted, confused, and anxious about the things you need to do. On a day where there’s a newborn baby on the scene and no one has slept enough the night before, this racing mind can be truly exhausting and almost frightening. This is the harsh reality of postpartum anxiety. Calming the mind down can be one of the first steps to sending postpartum anxiety on its way.

2 It Hangs Around Longer Than Two Weeks

They say that the first two weeks of bringing the baby home is when postpartum anxiety is likely to flourish. This is the also the time when it is mostly hidden under the frustrations of fatigue of new motherhood. This means it is the time when anxiety is not recognised for what it truly is, or can be.

After two weeks, if the symptoms of postpartum anxiety continue, it is worth getting some professional help to help you through it. These symptoms can be chronic fatigue, panic attacks, or fidgeting/obsessive behaviours that are making it harder to bond and care for the baby. It is always ok to ask for help and to reach out to family and friends when you are struggling, especially when there is a baby to think about!

1 If The Baby Blues Don’t Pass...

It is expected and entirely understandable that there are going to be some down days after giving birth. These blue days are nothing too much to worry about. Given the physical upheaval and changes that have happened to the former life, as well as the emotional rollercoaster that has been ridden for the past 9 months, it is no wonder that women get a bit sad after giving birth.

However, when it stops being the baby blues and becomes postpartum anxiety, that is when there is real reason to be concerned. Basically, after about a month or so, you will start to recognise a trend in your behaviours. If you haven’t started establishing a routine and feel erratic each day, anxiety might be on the rise. If these feelings of nervousness, doubt, and concern are still pressing you down after three to six months, it is worth getting some professional help.

Sources: Postpartumprogress.com, Parents.com, Thebump.com

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