While it’s definitely not perfect, there is some level of awareness and attention that is paid to postpartum depression. You may be asked by your midwife or doula about feeling sad or tearful. People may hesitantly ask how your mood is, whether you have been feeling okay. Postpartum anxiety, however, gets mostly ignored. However, it can be just as common and definitely just as distressing, as postpartum depression. Let’s yank postpartum anxiety out of the shadows!
Postpartum Anxiety Symptoms
You worry about everything. Is your baby too hot? Is your baby too cold? Is he eating enough? Not enough? Has she been sleeping too long? Should you wake you her up? What if you do wake her, then what?
It feels like your mind can’t stop. One worry feeds off the other worry, which then triggers another worry, and then you find even more stuff to worry about.
Since your mind can’t stop, it is difficult for your body to stop. You are fluttering around, cleaning things, straightening, things, reorganizing, folding hundreds of baby wash cloths. You are not getting any sense of achievement from these activities; it almost feels like you are compelled to do them.
You are exhausted. Sure, your baby is keeping you from getting solid sleep, but you’re struggling with sleep even when the baby is sleeping. You lie down and your mind starts to race. You feel overwhelmed and suddenly it feels like you need to get out of bed NOW.
You may start to have some pretty disturbing thoughts. These thoughts terrify you and you know that you would never want to act on them, but you just can’t make the thoughts stop.
You may be scared that you shouldn’t be with the baby alone. You worry that you aren’t a good mother, that you shouldn’t be trusted to take care of your child. You are filled with dread when your partner leaves the house and desperately want them to stay home with you.
You may not identify it as anxiety, but you know that you feel off. It feels like there is something wrong, and you’re not sure what it is.
You may be experiencing physical symptoms like stomach aches, headaches, feeling jittery. It feels like you’ve had too much caffeine (psst, which actually may be true if you’ve been trying to cope with the exhaustion with coffee or tea)
You don’t even know how to explain how you feel; you just know that it sucks and you really don’t want to feel like this.
You may experience some or all of these symptoms. You may start feeling these symptoms during pregnancy and up to 12 months after having your child. If you have these symptoms, it does not mean that you are weak, or not cut out to be a mom, or destined to feel like this for the rest of your life. It just means that you need help. It means that you are struggling. Counselling may help. Please contact me if you are worried.