My partner and I just had our first baby two months ago, and for the most part, everything is going well. But ever since we came home from the hospital, my anxiety has gone through the roof. I had some mild anxiety during pregnancy: mostly worrying about the baby and the impending labor and delivery. But since she was born, it’s gotten a lot worse. I can’t seem to stop worrying about everything, I can’t sleep, and I can’t help but think something bad is going to happen. Is this normal? And will it ever stop?
Anxious New Mom
Mama, I would love nothing more than to reach out and give you a hug right now. I know exactly how you’re feeling and what you’re going through. I know how scary this can all feel. The early weeks and months of motherhood are. . .hard. They’re just hard! Even under the best circumstances, it can be a daily struggle. But what you’ve described sounds like more than the expected struggles of a new mom. Bing a new mom can be hard, for sure, but it shouldn’t be debilitating.
Anxiety and depression after childbirth are somewhat common—thankfully, the conversation around conditions like postpartum depression has become less stigmatized, which means more women are recognizing their symptoms and reaching out for help. However, there’s another perinatal mood disorder that needs more attention: postpartum anxiety.
So many of us brush off our anxiety as normal. After all, some level of anxiety after having a baby is to be expected, right? It’s a natural response to protecting your baby. But for approximately 10% of postpartum women, the anxiety goes beyond the usual worrying. It can consume you, and begin to affect every aspect of your life. Postpartum anxiety can manifest in many physical ways until it becomes nearly impossible to manage.
You mentioned some of the more common symptoms of postpartum anxiety, like not being able to sleep, a constant fear that something bad is going to happen, and not being able to stop the worrying thoughts from racing through your mind. For some women (myself included), it can manifest in panic attacks and paralyzing fear over everyday situations. I was diagnosed with PPA when my first baby was almost 3 months old. Mama, I was not in a great place. Recognizing that you don’t have to keep trying to live like this is the first and most important step in getting help.
The next step is connecting with the right therapist—ask your OB or even your pediatrician for a referral to someone who specializes in perinatal mood disorders. There are different types of behavioral therapies that can help you change the thought and behavior patterns that trigger your anxiety. Your therapist can also help teach you techniques like meditation to help you relax. Therapy and support are so very important in managing postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. In some cases, medication may be part of the treatment plan and that’s OK. Your mental health is so, so incredibly important. I cannot stress that enough. And if you need some extra help to manage this, then that’s what you (and your baby!) need.
You’re not alone, mama, even if it feels like it right now. Motherhood is incredible, but it’s also one of the hardest things someone can do. Sometimes we need help. There’s no shame in that—in fact, it’s one of the best possible things you can do for yourself and your new little girl. Seeking help for my postpartum anxiety was the best decision I ever made. I hope it is for you, too.
You Got This,
Is This Normal