Symptoms of postpartum anxiety & what you can do

It seems that postpartum depression gets a fair bit of attention these days, but what about postpartum anxiety? I personally have a sneaky suspicion that it’s more common than we even know.

I suspect that many mothers feel this but don’t have the language or knowledge to know to call what we’re experiencing ‘anxiety.’

I look back on my early days with my first baby and I can see now that I was suffering from postpartum anxiety. I was wrung out and overwhelmed. I developed a whole bunch of obsessive compulsive habits to ward off my anxious thoughts and at times I just felt like it was all too much.

So how do you know if you have postpartum anxiety or just the regular tendency of Mums to worry. Typically the symptoms and feelings of postpartum anxiety tend to be persistent and can feel unmanageable.

What are the symptoms?

+ You might feel a constant feeling of dread or fear that something will happen to you or your baby.

+ You might constantly worry and nothing you do eases the worry.

+ You might have trouble sleeping or turning off anxious thoughts even when you have the opportunity to sleep.

+ You might feel like your thoughts are racing and you can’t focus.

+ You might experience episodes of postpartum panic including feeling shortness of breath, dizziness, a fast heart beat, etc.

+ You might physically feel the effects of anxiety as well. These symptoms include; excess sweat, nausea, shakiness and fatigue.

Postpartum anxiety treatment

Seek help

The first and most important step is knowing that you don’t have to face this on your own. Speak to your partner, go and see your doctor, share how you’re feeling with a close friend, talk to your own Mum.

Share with someone how you are feeling so that you can start getting the help that you need.

Get your body moving

Many studies have shown the positive effects that exercise has on anxiety. But I bet you don’t even need the scientific proof to believe me. Even just going for a short walk can help to immensely improve our mood. While it may not feel like you have time for exercise when your baby is little, it’s more important than ever.

I’ve created a postnatal yoga flow for anxiety below for you to try. This is not a class for physical recovery, so make sure you feel physically well (no serious core separation, pelvic pain or pelvic floor issues) before you try this one. I have other classes on my channel like this one for recovery if that’s where you’re starting out.

Mindfulness

Don’t feel put off by the word mindfulness. It simply means paying attention to the present moment without judgment. When you’re feeling anxious you’re usually caught up in the past or the future, and most of our anxious thoughts are highly judgmental. Practicing mindfulness whether through meditation or simply reminding yourself to breathe deeply and notice can help you to reduce feelings of anxiety.

If you’re keen to try a meditation practice I’ve created a free program for Mums; 7 Days to Mama Zen. Sign up for it here.

Relaxation

I don’t know why it happens, but as soon as we become mothers we suddenly seem to have a hard time justifying the time we spend relaxing. Perhaps it because motherhood is so never-ending that we always feel like there is something better we could be doing with our time.

Whatever the reason, relaxation is SO IMPORTANT, especially when you’re feeling anxious. Having downtime and feeling well-rested can help you manage anxious thoughts and make better lifestyle choices (food, movement, etc) that will reduce anxiety even further.

*** I also want to add a little note to this point. It might be worth looking at how you relax and choosing this time wisely. I know for me personally spending an hour scrolling instagram might seem like downtime but actually just adds to my anxiety in the long run. Reading a novel on the other hand makes me feel like I’ve just had a mini-holiday.

If you’re currently experiencing postpartum anxiety I just want to tell you that you will be okay. This will get better. Look after yourself.

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