5 Ways to Cope with Postpartum Anxiety & OCD
Most women have heard of Postpartum Depression (PPD), but fewer are aware of Postpartum Anxiety and OCD. It’s important to change that, so the women dealing with it know what the symptoms are and what they can do to get the help they deserve.
Postpartum anxiety refers to anxious thoughts and feelings you experience after having a baby. The most common symptom is excessive worrying, though that fear can manifest itself through physical issues, too. Postpartum OCD can look different for everyone. It might include avoiding certain activities with your newborn or having to say/do things a specific number of times.
Whatever the case, these conditions can make it difficult to bond with your little one and can be isolating and overwhelming for a new mother. With that, let’s look at five ways you can cope with Postpartum Anxiety and OCD.
1. Recognize the Signs
The first step in coping with either of these issues is admitting there’s a problem. It can be tempting to push your feelings down, but that’s not going to help you or your little one.
Instead, it could cause you to become even more distracted and distant. Emotions always demand to be felt. By acknowledging the signs of these conditions, you won’t spend so much time and energy trying to force them down to no avail.
2. Practice Self-Care
Self-care isn’t selfish. You can’t pour from an empty cup, and you can’t take care of your baby when you’re struggling with your mental health.
Things like exercise, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep are all essential when it comes to anxiety management. Things like meditation and mindfulness can also help you to stay focused on the present and make your worries, obsessions, and compulsions feel less overwhelming.
3. Lean On Support
Often, Postpartum OCD occurs because of the hormonal and physical changes caused by pregnancy and childbirth. If you’ve dealt with OCD before, pregnancy can be a trigger for it, and you might start to notice symptoms even before you give birth.
If that’s the case, it’s important to lean on your support system as much as possible. Let people know what you’re experiencing, and accept their help when it comes to taking care of the baby. OCD can lead to intrusive thoughts, and it’s better to surround yourself with supportive and helpful loved ones until you can overcome the effects of OCD and/or anxiety.
4. Set Realistic Expectations
When you’re a new mother, it can feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Even if you have a strong support system, thinking about what you need to accomplish each day can be overwhelming. Often, however, those feelings stem from the fact that you’re biting off more than you can chew. Setting unrealistic goals or expectations will fuel your anxiety and make it hard to ever feel a sense of tranquility. You’ll experience more what-ifs and often feel like a failure when you can’t meet those unrealistic expectations.
It’s okay to set goals and expect things to be a certain way. But don’t put yourself in hot water by setting up expectations that are out of everyone’s reach.
5. Seek Out Help
Sometimes, your inner circle isn’t enough to give you the support you need. Postpartum OCD and anxiety can be managed with medication and/or therapy. Your specific needs depend on the severity of your condition.
When it comes to therapy, talking through your symptoms and what might have triggered them can offer a great first step toward managing what you’re going through. You don’t have to lose these precious days of new motherhood to a postpartum condition. If you’re struggling, contact me for more information or to set up an appointment.
To learn more about how therapy can help with postpartum anxiety, please click here:
Jennifer Perera is a mom of two boys, a spouse and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She is also Certified as a Perinatal Mental Health Professional by Postpartum Support International. She has a private practice in Springfield, New Jersey and also sees clients throughout New Jersey via telehealth. Her passion is helping new moms and dads find their joy again in parenthood through individual and couples counseling. She also runs workshops for new parents, teaching them techniques and strategies to help them have a stronger relationship - built to thrive during the parenthood years. Jennifer specializes in working with parents during the prenatal and postpartum periods and those coping with grief or loss issues surrounding pregnancy.