What is Postpartum Anxiety? Symptoms & Treatments
What is Postpartum Anxiety?
Postpartum Anxiety is anxiety suffered by a mother following childbirth.
It is very common in the first twelve months after birth.
Its only natural that you will worry about your newborn however, if the worry starts to over take your life and make you feel in a constant state of anxiety and worry you may need to seek help – you may have postpartum anxiety.
Postpartum Anxiety falls under the general medical term ‘Perinatal Mental Health’.
This refers to the mental health of a woman during pregnancy and birth, as well as in the postpartum period after the baby is born.
Perinatal Mental Health covers mental illnesses such as:
- Postpartum Anxiety
- Postpartum Depression
- Postpartum Psychosis
Postpartum Anxiety affects approximately 10% of woman after child birth.
What are the Symptoms & Treatments Of Postpartum Anxiety?
What Are the Symptoms of Postpartum Anxiety?
The main symptom that is common to postpartum anxiety is the constant worry and fear about your baby’s health and your ability as a parent. You may also suffer from panic attacks.
Additional symptoms that are common to postpartum anxiety are:
- Constant worry
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling like something bad is going to happen to you or the baby
- Racing thoughts
Other symptoms common to this condition are :
- Difficulty concentrating
You may also have the following:
- aches and pains
- feelings of a sense of dread
- feeling like you’ve lost the ‘old’ you
- always checking the baby is breathing and worrying about them all the time
If you feel any of the above you may be suffering from postpartum anxiety. It’s important to seek help from your GP / Health Visitor.
It’s normal for new mums to feel a bit anxious and tearful after birth. This ‘Baby Blues’ should only last for two weeks, if you’ve had these symptoms longer it may be postpartum anxiety.
What Are The Treatments For Postpartum Anxiety?
- Talking Therapy
- Talking To A Friend
Taking Therapy is when you see a licensed mental health professional. They will talk you through your feelings and help you work through your anxiety.
Your GP may also recommend Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT helps you identify the negative thoughts and helps you find a way to stop the negative thinking and helps you think in a more positive way. CBT can be given one-to one or in a group.
Your GP may recommend a course of antidepressants if you are suffering from moderate to severe postpartum anxiety.
There have been major studies that show that antidepressants do work with treating depression and anxiety so please do consider them as an option.
Eating a healthy diet and exercise can really help recovery from postpartum anxiety. It’s also good to take a break from your childcare duties and have some you time.
Practising self care for mums is a must. This is highly beneficial, as well as taking care of your newborn you also need to take care of yourself.
You need some Mummy time to. One thing you can try is controlled breathing for those moments where your breathing has quickened due to your anxiety.
Try breathing at regular intervals – three deep breathes in and three deep breathes out, repeat this until its returned to a normal rate.
Make time for yourself to rest and get a good nights sleep. If you’re having trouble sleeping make an appointment with your GP.
During the day get out and about and get some fresh air and a brisk walk is also beneficial.
Talk with family and friends about your feelings and ways they can help and support you.
Starting a journal or self care book can also be really useful – studies have shown that writing down your feelings are a great form of self help.
You can also get support and encouragement from other mums online who have been in a similar position to you – group support is very effective.
Where To Get Help For Postpartum Anxiety?
Your first points of contact should be your GP and Health Visitor.
They have seen mums in the same position as you and have helped them through it. They will start you off on your recovery.
Your GP may recommend some medication, and will also be able to offer alternative methods of recovery.
Are There Any Charities For Postpartum Anxiety?
If you want to read more about what is postpartum anxiety and other Perinatal Mental Health Disorders, or if you’d like some help then these charities can offer you advice and support :