What I Wish I Knew About Postpartum Anxiety
There are so many expectations that I had when it comes to being a mother. I am the mother of two kids, Daniel who’s now 6 and A’Maya who’s 3. I remember when I found out that I was expecting my son Daniel, I was both overjoyed and terrified, to say the least.
During my pregnancy, I suffered from anxiety and had panic attacks. I ended up having an emergency c-section at 37 weeks. After my son was born the anxiety only got worse. I was diagnosed with postpartum anxiety.
This was something I didn’t know even existed. I had heard of postpartum depression before and had even prepared myself to experience that, but postpartum anxiety is much different. Instead of symptoms such as feeling detached from my baby or felling down about myself, I was obsessing over every possible thing that I could do wrong.
My worst fear was that my child would die from SIDS so I would become more anxious at night time. I would watch him like a hawk out of fear that something would happen to him while I was asleep. This is a hard time for me to relive because having postpartum anxiety took away from the joy that I should’ve been feeling as a new mother and that is something that I still regret to this day.
Don’t get me wrong I was overjoyed to be a new mother. My son was and still is, in addition to my daughter, the center of my world. I only wish that I was able to relax and soak up every single moment without fear and anxiety.
The constant worrying and stressing lead to insomnia and anorexia which is not good for a new mother who is trying to breastfeed. Insomnia caused me to lose sleep which is normal for a new mom but at best I would get four hours of sleep every night. And on top of that, my loss of appetite was concerning. I was losing weight and I had to force myself to eat just to get through. This, of course, led to a lack of milk production which made me feel even worse that I couldn’t provide the proper nourishment that my baby needed to survive.
It was a never-ending cycle. In my mind, I was the worst mother in the world and I would end up hurting my son somehow. I wish I had known what to expect when I was pregnant so I could have been more prepared.
Like any expecting mother, I read lots of books, watched videos, and even got advice from family and friends about what to expect, but postpartum anxiety is something that is rarely talked about. It wasn’t until I read about it on an online forum that it clicked for me. Postpartum anxiety is often missed or misdiagnosed as postpartum depression because it is less common.
Facts About Postpartum Anxiety
According to Dr. Sarah Allen these are some facts about Postpartum Anxiety.
Racing thoughts – they go round and round in your brain with no off switch.
Worrying – it’s constant, you know the concerns are excessive but that doesn’t stop the worries and when you stop worrying about one thing, your mind jumps to another. Worries often surround the well-being of the baby or your other children, partner and yourself. Women worry they are going crazy and have a feeling of dread in the pit of their stomach.
Lack of concentration – your focus flits from one thing to another and memory is poor.
Restlessness – you are exhausted but so agitated you can’t settle or relax.
Sleep disturbance – you can’t sleep even if the baby is sleeping and when you drop off you don’t wake up energized.
Irritability – you may be able to hide it from friends, your partner will probably be getting the brunt of it.
Physical tension – your muscles are balls of tension, possibly leading to neck, shoulder and backaches.
No appetite – women want to lose the baby pounds but this isn’t the way to do it. Even though you know you should be keeping hydrated and your energy up, you have no appetite for food and may feel nauseous a lot of the time.
There are subsets of anxiety symptoms that are important to differentiate.
Panic attacks are like anxiety multiplied by 10. They have a sudden onset and are accompanied by intense fear of something bad happening.
Physical symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, heart palpitations (people often think they are going to have a heart attack), sweating and gastrointestinal upset.
Emotionally you may feel that you are going to somehow lose control, go crazy and may start to avoid situations where you have experienced panic attacks for fear of one happening again.
Hang in There Mama
Lots of mothers don’t even realize that they have symptoms of postpartum anxiety. If you feel as though you may be experiencing some of the symptoms of postpartum anxiety please do your research. Consult your healthcare provider for more information or to seek treatment.
I hope that by sharing my experience with postpartum anxiety it will help someone else that may be going through a similar experience. Having postpartum anxiety does not mean that you are a bad mother or that you don’t love your baby. Bringing a child into the world is a life-changing event and it is completely normal for you to take time to adjust to that.
To all the mama’s out there who may be going through this, keep your head up.
This too shall pass. Acts 2:21
**Disclaimer** This blog post is in no way intended to be taken as medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider for more information.
Allen, Sarah. “Pregnancy Anxiety and Postpartum Anxiety.” Dr. Sarah Allen Counseling, 14 Feb. 2019, drsarahallen.com/pregnancy-and-postpartum-anxiety/.