When Does Postpartum Anxiety Usually Kick In

by | Jan 13, 2023 | Postpartum Therapy

Having a child is a wonderful, special experience. We bring a baby into the world, and we raise them. We nurture them so they can become their own person. Is there anything more wonderful than that?

But raising a child isn’t easy, and it’s normal for us to worry. Do you feel like you worry a lot about what might happen to your baby? Is it common for you to worry about every single way something can go wrong for them?

Worrying is normal, but there is a difference between anxiety and worry. Postpartum anxiety is real. It’s something plenty of parents experience after they bring a child into this world. But not everyone knows what postpartum anxiety feels like, let alone that it’s exactly what they’re experiencing.

That’s why it’s important to know what it is and when it usually kicks in. Otherwise, how are we supposed to know what we’re struggling with?


Postpartum Anxiety

The easiest way to describe postpartum anxiety is as a persistent worry that is very difficult. Sometimes almost impossible to ease. This can show up in various ways, but the most common manifestations of postpartum anxiety are intrusive thoughts, intense feelings of dread, heart palpitations, and hyperventilation.

The intrusive thoughts in particular as the most pervasive ones, and they’re usually about your baby being harmed or dying in a variety of ways. They’re extremely distressing, and they can make it hard to go about your day and do anything other than worry.

There are other manifestations, of course. Anxiety manifests differently in everyone. But what separates general anxiety from postpartum anxiety is that your baby is at the center of your worries. Of course, they are. Babies are fragile and they need our help. And there is so much we want to protect them from.

The Difference Between Anxiety and Worry

Is it possible to tell the difference between normal worry and anxiety? Everyone worries, of course, but anxiety is different. It’s more intense and more persistent. It can be so strong, it’s debilitating. Anxiety can last for days at a time. More often than not, anxious, intrusive thoughts are irrational, but our emotions and our fear, is very real.

Anxiety constantly keeps us on the edge of our seat, waiting for something to happen, hoping we might be able to stop it. But that’s not what worrying is like. Normal worries are easy to calm, easy to reason with. Anxiety isn’t.


When It Begins

The name “postpartum anxiety” makes it sound like anxiety begins sometime after giving birth, maybe immediately after. But that’s not always the case. So, when does it actually kick in? It’s true that a lot of times, postpartum anxiety does begin after birth. But that’s not all. It can even show up months later, up to a year after the birth. That’s the more surprising part, the one that leads us to think we can’t possibly be struggling with it.

But in other cases, anxiety begins before birth. It begins during pregnancy as you start worrying and thinking about all the ways everything can go wrong. And even though it starts before birth, it’s called “postpartum anxiety” just the same.

It’s okay. Regardless of when it begins, it’s possible to learn to cope with postpartum anxiety, even if it started months ago and you’re only just realizing it.

Dealing With Postpartum Anxiety

Postpartum anxiety can be debilitating, so if you find yourself in a position where you need professional help, don’t hesitate to reach out. Anxiety can be very invasive, and you shouldn’t have to struggle alone, especially as a new parent with a child at home. Take the first step in your journey towards recovery and make an appointment. You won’t feel this way forever. 

To learn more about how Mindful Reflections can help, check out our Postpartum Therapy page.

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