It’s normal to feel a combination of anxiousness and excitement while you’re waiting for your baby to arrive. It’s also perfectly normal for some of those nerves to carry over after your little one is born. If you’re a first-time parent, especially, there’s a lot to learn and experience!
However, there’s a difference between feeling a little nervous after your baby is born and feeling incredibly anxious. If those anxious thoughts and feelings are starting to impact you on a daily basis, you might be dealing with postpartum anxiety.
Most women have heard of Postpartum Depression, but anxiety after having a baby can be just as common and problematic. Understanding what causes it and what to look out for can help you receive a proper diagnosis and learn how to handle your anxiety after your child is born.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at postpartum anxiety and what to expect if you’re dealing with it.
What Is Postpartum Anxiety?
Like Postpartum Depression (PPD), postpartum anxiety occurs shortly after your baby is born. It can affect your life and your ability to take care of yourself and your child.
This type of anxiety typically lasts at least a month. In many cases, women experience it for six months or more. It can interfere with your daily functioning ability, and your fears and worries might completely consume your thoughts.
What Are the Symptoms?
It’s important to note that postpartum anxiety is not the same as PPD. While they can sometimes coincide and some women with anxiety eventually develop PPD, recognizing the symptoms can make it easier to understand what you’re dealing with.
Some of the common symptoms of postpartum anxiety include
Uncontrollable, racing thoughts
You can also develop fears about your health or your baby’s health and experience an underlying feeling of dread. It’s not hard to see how any of these symptoms can have a negative impact on your parenting. You might not be able to give your little one the care they need if you’re constantly in a state of worry and fear.
Just as importantly, you’re not able to take care of yourself. When you have a newborn, it’s hard enough to practice self-care. When your mental health isn’t where it should be, it’s even more difficult to find time to focus on your well-being.
What Should You Do?
Some women are more susceptible to postpartum anxiety than others. If you have a history of generalized anxiety, low levels of social support, or you experienced stressful events throughout your pregnancy, those are all increased risk factors for postpartum anxiety. The best thing you can do before and during your pregnancy is to reduce your stress levels as much as possible. Make your mental health a priority, and lean on your support systems for help.
Many of those suggestions still apply if you’re experiencing anxiety after giving birth. It’s important to have a strong support system and people you can turn to. It’s also beneficial to manage your stress levels and find ways to relax each day. However, if you think your anxiety is getting worse, don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help. Treatments like therapy or even medications can help you manage your symptoms, get to the root cause of your worries, and make it easier to bond with your baby while letting go of your fears.
You’re not alone in experiencing this type of anxiety. Therapy can help you understand these feelings and learn ways to cope and manage them now that your little one is in your arms. Most importantly, you don’t have to handle it silently.
Don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you’re struggling. Feel free to contact me if you need someone to talk to about those concerns. Together, we can work through effective ways to cope with both the uncertainty of what’s to come and how to handle your anxiety in the meantime.
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.