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1 in 7 Women Suffer from Postpartum Anxiety. Here are the Red Flags!

Postpartum Anxiety

Have you ever heard of Postpartum Anxiety?  Sure, there’s a lot of talk about postpartum depression but this may not be a term you’re familiar with. 

Typically health care workers talk to new moms about postpartum depression symptoms before they leave the hospital with their baby.

…BUT what if you don’t feel depressed and yet still feel like something’s just not quite right? In your heart you know something is going on, but you can’t put your finger on it. 

Well, you are not alone, incredibly 1 in 7 women are touched by postpartum anxiety! It’s hard to believe that so many suffer from something that’s so rarely discussed.

Motherhood Is a BIG Transition

Pregnancy is a joyous event for most of us.

Celebrating the birth of a child is part of our culture. But there’s a flip side to the avalanche of hormones that descend on expectant mothers and then unceremoniously depart.

Luckily I had a wonderful OBGYN who openly talked about how the shift in hormones is similar to taking a leisurely 9-month hike up Mount Everest – only to be pushed off after you have a baby!

Sadly most doctors don’t ever address these issue with their patients.

How can this be right? This information should really be part and parcel of the birthing process.

You have no idea how many clients I’ve worked with that have had first-hand experience with postpartum anxiety.

That’s why I think it’s imperative we get more information out to the general population. Friends and family need to be aware of the red flags connected to postpartum anxiety, so they can be on the lookout after a loved one gives birth.

I really love this sentiment from Lori Garcia at Babble: 

The idea of motherhood was awesome: but even more than awesome, it was scary. Even my baby scared me. Sure, he didn’t look scary, but that was the scariest part.

You’ll find yourself facing all sorts of completely rational new mom fears, and when you do, just know: You’re so not alone.

ADVICE FOR NEW MOMS: DON’T WORRY, I WAS SCARED OF MY BABY, TOO Babble

Postpartum Anxiety - New Moms Need Support

Support during this very vulnerable time is of the utmost importance.

The sooner a new mom gets help, the quicker the recovery.

Yes, of course, babies are miraculous, but having a new-born at home is fraught with stress, even on the best days!

Lack of sleep, hormonal fluctuations, lactation issues and adjusting to caring for a new person that you are completely responsible for is a recipe for upheaval.

This holds true for each and every pregnancy. Prior motherhood does not insulate a woman from these pressures and sadly few concessions are made for those that suffer from postpartum anxiety. 

Postpartum Anxiety - Some Worry is Healthy

The baffling thing is we paint a picture of happy families taking babies home with little or no effort required.

The truth is far from this idyllic concept. It’s completely normal to feel anxiety and some depression when you face such dramatic changes socially, physically and psychologically.

A certain amount of anxiety is not only normal, but it’s also nature’s way of letting you know that there are new priorities and responsibilities at hand. You have to be more vigilant and attuned to your newborn’s needs at this stage in their life. A blasé attitude would put your child’s life at risk.

That being said, there can also be too much of a good thing. 

In my experience as a therapist, anything in excess is usually detrimental. That’s why I work so hard with my patients to achieve balance and mindfulness…

…which is also a huge part of the healing process.

So let’s take a closer look at true postpartum anxiety and the signs you should be aware of if you are a new mom or part of her support network:

postpartum anxiety irritability

Irritability 

Who isn’t irritable when they don’t get enough sleep? This is pretty standard procedure for new parents in general. However, if you’re acting completely out of character and life seems especially anger provoking, this may be a sign of postpartum anxiety.

Postpartum Anxiety Relax

Just Can't Relax  

Are you running on empty but just can’t seem to settle in for some rest – even when it’s made available to you? Sure being a new parent is tough and R&R is rare but if you have the opportunities and just can't go with it - there may be more to the story. 

Postpartum Anxiety Scary

Scary Thoughts 

Everyone wonders what if...

...but if you’re wandering into uncharted territory and are thinking about highly unlikely scenarios that cause you to lose sleep at night?  This is another red flag. Yes there is a time to be concerned, but life shouldn't be all about fear. 

Postpartum Anxiety Hunger

Food is NOT Appealing 

Food is a very big part of life for most us. Sometimes more so than we would like 😉 But what if all of that changes and you're suddenly put off by your faves? In fact, you aren’t eating at all or if you are it’s very limited. This may be a sign of postpartum anxiety. 

Postpartum Anxiety Baby

You're Scared to be Alone with Your Baby

 Yep. This isn't unheard of. Many new parents are not comfortable being alone with their little ones. Hey it's a BIG responsibility. If fear of your own thoughts or fear that something might happen to your newborn is keeping you from spending time with your baby, then you might be dealing with Postpartum anxiety. 

postpartum Anxiety Emotional

Physical and/or Emotional Discomfort 

 Postpartum anxiety can manifest in physical and emotional symptoms such as headaches, stomach issues, heart palpitations, panic attacks and/or nervousness. You should always go to your doctor to rule out a medical condition first. If there's nothing physiologically wrong, you may want to consider seeing a psychologist to see if it's postpartum anxiety. 

postpartum Anxiety Something Wrong

You Know Something is Wrong 

You just can't put your finger on it, but something is wrong.  Possibly you’re afraid to admit it for fear family and friends will judge you. It's important to remember that it's ok to be human. We all go through vulnerable spaces. Don't fear reaching out. 

Postpartum anxiety vigilance

Excessive Vigilance 

Of course any new mom is going to worry about their baby. After all there are legitimate concerns such as SIDS and developmental milestones…

...but if you find that everything in the house is a danger and you can't take a breather it might be an issue.

 

So, if after reading this article you see yourself –  then postpartum anxiety could be the cause. My advice is to seek the help of a knowledgeable psychologist. 

The thing is new parents are tired, concerned and even anxious. These red flags apply to just about anyone that has brought a baby home. 

The key is the degree. If your feelings and concerns seem out of place then it’s time to reevaluate. 

Locking and re-locking doors, double and triple checking bottles and your baby’s breathing constantly are all markers that you could be going through postpartum anxiety. 

It’s important to get real with yourself and speak to someone who can help you reprioritize and relax. 

So Who Typically Gets Postpartum Anxiety?

There are two areas to consider.

Some physical attributes may make you more likely to be susceptible to postpartum anxiety, such as inherited characteristics or your physiological response to hormones.

There’s also a mental component that plays a role. These are learned behaviors, such as the way you approach situations and the coping mechanisms you’ve developed to handle an increase in stress levels.

The following circumstances MAY be markers for future postpartum anxiety:

Who typically gets postpartum anxiety
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Personal or family history of mental illness that includes: OCD, Depression, Eating Disorders

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Stressful personal life

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A traumatic birthing experience

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Past or present pregnancy issues: Infertility Treatment or Miscarriages

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Childhood abuse or trauma 

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Minimal personal support 

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You're a Type A personality and have a need for perfection

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Prior reaction to Hormonal Fluctuations: PMS, PMDD or Birth Control

Women who experience abuse from someone they know have an 80 per cent higher chance of developing postpartum depression as women who have never been abused. 

Abuse can lead to postpartum depression, ScienceNordic 

Fear Not! There's Help for Postpartum Anxiety

If you or a loved one identify with these red flags, please don’t hesitate to get help. The good news is, postpartum anxiety is highly treatable, so there's no need to suffer in silence.

With a few simple tools, you can be on the road to recovery. Sadly, I think fear keeps many women from finding the help they need in a timely manner. 

Call us at Holistic Neurodevelopment today, we are here to help! (509) 844-6279.

Dr. Lynn Fraley Holistic Neurodevelopment
Holistic Neurodevelopment Contact

Phone Number: +1 509-844-6279
Email: Lynn@holisticneurodevelopment.com

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504 Main, Suite 422
Lewiston, ID 83501

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