Being a mom, especially a first-time mom, is a large responsibility.
It is a huge phase for every woman.
During the pregnancy, a variety of changes which cause postpartum anxiety symptoms.
This includes physiological and emotional hormonal affects.
New mothers have to deal with these new changes.
The force is preparing her for the postpartum weeks journey ahead.
Becoming overly sensitive and sometimes feel unable to cope with all the unrealistic expectations is a natural phenomena.
Here are some of the myths that many new moms believe which can affect their self-confidence during first few weeks:
The Signs of Postnatal Anxiety:
- “Happy motherhood” myth – every woman should feel happy when the baby arrives, all the time
- Intuitive mother myth – every (good) mother knows exactly what the baby wants or needs from the beginning
- Unremitting motherly love myth
- Perfect mother and perfect baby myth
- The myth that father will be equally involved in parenthood
- 1 Week Postpartum – Starting A New Journey
- 2 Weeks Postpartum – Forming Habits
- Postpartum Depression Symptoms & Causes – What, How and When?
- Postpartum Blues Symptoms, Signs and Causes
All these myths can greatly affect the development of postpartum mood disorders.
While postpartum depression is described in detail in books about motherhood, postpartum anxiety symptoms remains a topic rarely discussed.
These two disorders often appear together, and their symptoms can also overlap.
Therefore, it doesn’t matter which one of them you have, what matter is to face and solve them.
Not all of the symptoms are present in every affected person, but also neither one of the symptoms is enough for the disorder to be diagnosed.
Since post-pregnancy period is very challenging, you will probably be a bit moody and nervous – that’s completely normal.
If these symptoms last longer than two weeks, or are very intense, than you have reason to visit the doctor.
What are Postpartum Anxiety Symptoms?
First of all, postpartum anxiety is often separated into two different groups (with different symptoms).
The postpartum anxiety symptoms are divided into two groups:
a) postpartum panic disorder and
b) postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder.
What are postpartum panic disorder symptoms and indications found within a person?
Here are some of the following:
- You experience extreme anxiety or irritability
- Restlessness and agitation
- Shortness of breath, sensations of choking or smothering
- Chest pains or discomfort (sometimes this can be a symptom of physical illnesses, so stay cautious)
- Tingling in hands or feet
- Trembling and shaking
- Hot or cold flashes
- Excessive worry or fears – most common fears are fear of going crazy, of dying and of losing control
- Heart palpitations
Postpartum panic disorder appears in 10% women after the delivery.
Postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder is less frequent. Only 3-5% of post delivery women suffer from it.
This disorder has some very serious symptoms, and needs to be treated immediately.
What are the postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder symptoms and indications found within a person:
- Repetitive obsessions (persistent thoughts and mental images that are intrusive and foreign to one’s self)
- Compulsions (behaviors that are performed in order to reduce the obsessions)
- Horrifying nature of these thoughts
Most of these compulsive thought and images depict the mother either hurting the baby, most often stabbing it with the knife.
These kind of thoughts is a symptom that strongly suggests the existence of postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder.
These symptoms can signal the existence of even more serious disorder – postpartum psychosis.
It is quite rare (1-2 cases in 1000 new mothers), but very dangerous and requires urgent treatment.
Therefore, if some of these symptoms appear, visit the doctor as soon as possible.
What are the Postpartum Anxiety Causes?
Women who have history of anxiety disorders have greater possibilities of developing the symptoms of postpartum anxiety. However, this is not a necessary condition.
There are several other factors bring out postpartum anxiety in a new mother such as:
- Brain chemistry imbalance: Not your fault. It is primarily treated with medications.
- Negative thought patterns: If you have unrealistic expectations of yourself as a mother, or you doubt your parenting abilities, you might be in risk of postpartum anxiety. Sometimes you can be strong enough to deal with these thoughts, but if you feel that they are out of control, you might want to seek therapy.
- Bad and insufficient nutrition: You don’t need to be thin at this point, you need to be healthy. And to eat well. Eat various foods, as that is the only way to get all the nutrients you need, and you can even ask your doctor to recommend the postpartum diet and supplements.
- Sleep deprivation: You cannot sleep eight hours straight, but you can sleep eight hours during the day. Rest when your baby’s resting, and let somebody else take care about your newborn for a few hours.
- Dehydration: Drink as much water as you can. It won’t hurt you.
- Shallow breath: Due to the pregnancy, you might lack oxygen, as your breathing is shallower. Take deep breaths, and try to relax.
I think I might have postpartum anxiety disorder. What I should do now?
Talk to your doctor. You cannot be sure how serious your condition is, or what are its causes.
Your doctor will prescribe you some therapy.
And don’t be ashamed – this condition is not your fault. It doesn’t make you a lesser mother or person.
Frequency of panic attacks can be influenced by some techniques and behaviors.
Don’t do anything that doesn’t feel right, but try at least some of these advices:
- Continuation of unhealthy dietary habits: Sure, you’ve missed coffee and alcohol during pregnancy. Unfortunately, they are very bad for people suffering from anxiety, so you might want to avoid them a little bit longer
- Frequent work out scheduling: Exercise is good, but only when moderate. Rapid heartbeats can cause the attack
- Keep an eye on your food choices: Eat well, and keep your blood-sugar stabile by eating smaller meals more frequently
- Doing daily meditation: Try breathing deeply, or other relaxation techniques
- Gathering support: Talk to your loved ones and ask for help and support
- Get distracted: When you start feeling anxious, try doing something you like, especially if it keeps you active. Knitting, Sudoku, reading – they are all better than watching TV.
Postpartum anxiety disorder is a rarely mentioned, but very real disorder.
It is not an imaginary illness, and if you experience these symptoms you need help and support.
Don’t keep your feelings to yourself. Be good to yourself, and let others help deliver good to you.