What Does Postpartum Anxiety Look Like?
It’s normal to worry about your baby when they’ve just been born. They’re so small and they depend on you, so it’s only normal to feel some level of concern. That’s a big responsibility to carry. But sometimes that worry becomes too strong, too overwhelming, and it stops being regular worry and it becomes something else.
Postpartum anxiety is different from the occasional worry over your baby’s health. It’s much more persistent and overwhelming. But unless you’ve had experiences with anxiety before, you might find it difficult to know if you’re experiencing postpartum anxiety or not. It’s okay if that’s the case.
Let’s look at what postpartum anxiety looks like.
You could say that this is the same as generalized anxiety. Persistent and uncontrollable worry, feeling nervous or on edge almost every day. But what makes this postpartum anxiety is what is at the center of these worries: your baby. You might have intrusive thoughts about them being hurt. Or maybe you start dreading any sort of accident or harm that you fear could happen to your baby.
You could also be worried about yourself—about your health after the birth, or questioning your ability to fulfil your child’s needs. You might doubt whether you’re a good parent, not based on any real actions, but just on fears and intrusive thoughts.
It may feel impossible to relax under the weight of all these worries, and really, who could blame you?
Changes in Your Behavior
Have you been more irritable lately? Do you have trouble focusing? Maybe you forget things more and more these days. You might also have started to double-check things, or even triple-check them. You just want to be extra sure that you’ve packed all you need to make that trip to the park, so you check your bag around three or four times just to be absolutely certain that you packed everything.
Maybe you avoid some activities or places that are associated with one of your fears. This includes avoiding certain people, too. Are you avoiding all these because it’s the easiest way to make your worry go away? After all, you don’t need to worry about anything bad happening if you just stay home, or stick to activities that you consider safer, right?
These are common ways in which anxiety manifests.
Changes in Your Sleeping Habits
Do you have trouble sleeping? Not because of the baby—that is very common after giving birth. But maybe you wake up even though your baby is sleeping peacefully.
Or perhaps you have trouble falling asleep in the first place even though you’re exhausted. You might even stay awake all night long because you’re scared something might happen to your baby and you won’t be awake to prevent it.
Do you feel more tired than usual? Perhaps you notice your muscles are tense all the time, or your teeth are clenched. You might feel nauseous, or you might feel your heart beating way too fast. You might have moments where your hands shake and you have trouble breathing.
There are quite a few physical sensations that go hand in hand with anxiety, and they can be rather scary, especially when they take you by surprise. It’s perfectly understandable if you need a moment to yourself, to remember how to breathe while you wait for it to pass. Eventually, you’ll be able to breathe again.
Postpartum anxiety is scary and it might feel like it will stay forever, but it is possible to get through this.
If any part of what I wrote resonates with you, then please make an appointment. Let’s work on this together. You can also check out Mindful Reflection’s Postpartum Therapy page to learn more.