Why am I so anxious after having a baby?
You did it. Bravo. You birthed a beautiful, squishy, bundle of joy, filled your hospital room (or worse, your house) for several days with loved ones, and now here you are….at 3 am on what feels like day 985 of no sleep, holding your precious little gem…alone. Your body is still probably buzzing with a mix of adrenaline and fatigue, and your lady parts or c-section scar? Burning right about now.
As you sit in your baby’s nursery, a flurry of thoughts rush through your head:
Am I doing this right?
What if my baby stops breathing? Why is she making that face? Am I hurting her?
What if she starts crying and I’m too tired to get up and sleep through it?
My boobs are so sore. What if I get mastitis and die?
Can you die from fatigue? If I die, my baby will have no one and I will have failed as a mom.
I’m not doing this right. I’m not doing this right. Nothing I’m doing is right.
By now you are experiencing these thoughts with your face hot and your body is probably trembling as you choke back tears.
I know how bad this must feel. And how absolutely terrifying it must feel. And the worst part? In the moment it FEELS like there’s no expiration date.
So let’s talk postpartum anxiety and depression. Your body just underwent an avalanche of a hormonal purge. Everything that you have been “storing” all of a sudden becomes exposed once you give birth to that tiny little human. This happens because your body is protecting itself *at all costs* while you’re pregnant, to sustain the life that was growing inside of you. Now that it does not have to sustain that life inside, it starts searching for homeostasis by emptying out that backlog of hormones, aches, pains, and most of all, emotions.
This is WHY you may feel “off” in the first few months to a year post-partum. Luckily, there are things you can do to create a *new* you:
Create a routine: Anxiety and depression thrive on lack of routine. Without routine, your body and mind are unable to process what is coming next. As a result, you may feel fatigue, low mood, have frequent crying spells, and feel physiological symptoms of anxiety.
Check in with your partner: Your partner is JUST as important as that baby. I know, this isn’t something you hear very often, but this can be a reminder to be gentle with him/her because after all, you’re a team. Babies create huge shifts in relationships (more on this in future blogs!) and its really important to make sure your needs as well as theirs are met. Ok so what does that mean? It means if you feel like you need a break, make it known: “I am really tired, can you do the next feeding?” “I feel like I’m not doing a good job, can you help me?” You’d be surprised how much further you get with that than barking orders and spiking your cortisol levels.
Cry: Crying is nature’s way of allowing you to let go. A good cry releases endorphins called leucine-enkephalins, which actually are a natural pain reliever. That’s exactly why most of the time, you may feel relief after crying.
Check in with yourself: Did you drink water today? Did you shower (probably not)? What is 1 thing you did well today? Make this a daily practice. The more you check in with yourself and acknowledge what you HAVE done, the less reactive your brain will be in focusing on what you HAVEN’T done.
Call a friend: Mom friends are a HUGE asset. You need the support. You need the recognition. And you need to know you are not alone in your feelings.
Call a therapist: You don’t have to weather the storm of postpartum anxiety or postpartum depression alone. I specialize in helping people work towards managing and fixing their mindsets during critical points in their lives, such as after having a baby! I am confident that I can help you with all of the things that have long been swept under a rug. I’ll help you make that schedule, target your negative thoughts, and learn how to get your point across to your partner.
Remind yourself that this is NOT forever. It may take months or even longer for your body and mind to get back to baseline. Allow yourself the time to get into a new rhythm.
Are you ready to start feeling better today? Call/text me at (917)524-7663
Yana Kofman, LMHC