We all stumble into parenthood a little bleary-eyed, possibly euphoric, but often slightly terrified. There is no singular experience of welcoming a child into the world other than your life has undoubtedly changed.
Whether you always planned to be a parent or plans shifted along the way, there is something magical about holding your child for the first time. There is an entirely new person in your life that depends on you. You care for them deeply in a way that you can’t explain.
Having a child has brought you happiness, fulfillment, and love. You feel whole. But you’d be lying if you didn’t admit to some of the other feelings you’ve been having.
You’ve been on edge, nervous, and anxious about things that you didn’t think would bother you. You knew that you’d be a little more cautious being a new mom or a mom in general, but you didn’t anticipate the feelings you’ve been experiencing lately.
Let’s learn more about the signs of postpartum anxiety and how to know if you have it.
What is Postpartum Anxiety?
Postpartum anxiety is a type of anxiety that can occur after having a baby. Similar to other forms of anxiety, postpartum anxiety involves uncontrollable worries along with physical symptoms. Postpartum anxiety is directly related to having a baby. The anxiety will form shortly before or immediately following having a baby.
The Signs and Symptoms
Postpartum anxiety has a variety of different signs and symptoms. In addition to emotional signs and symptoms, there are also behavioral and physical signs and symptoms. These are some of the most common signs to look out for.
- Avoiding certain people or places due to fear
- Checking and rechecking
- Overly cautious, even over situations that aren’t usually dangerous
- Seeking to control certain situations or other’s behavior
- On edge
- Ruminative and racing thoughts
- Unable to move on from negative thoughts
- Lack of sleep
- Rapid heart rate
- Shortness of breath
General Anxiety vs. Postpartum Anxiety
Everyone deals with anxiety at some point or another. Anxiety is just as common as other emotions like happiness, sadness, or anger. Since anxiety is fairly common, someone who experiences postpartum anxiety may be wondering if they have it or if they’re just experiencing signs of general anxiety.
When you’re a new parent, it’s common to have added worries or fears. Your child is dependent on you, and you want to make sure that they’re taken care of, healthy, and happy. General anxiety will typically be small worries every so often. Having a little bit of anxiety, especially as a parent, is a common part of the process, especially for new parents.
The anxiety that lasts all day and distracts you from your normal day-to-day life is known to be associated with postpartum anxiety.
When to Seek Help
If you’re experiencing some of the signs and symptoms that were listed above, you should reach out to a doctor to see if there’s a larger issue at hand. Try to schedule an appointment as soon as you think it’s a possibility that you may be struggling with postpartum anxiety, as signs and symptoms can worsen over time, especially if left untreated.
You’re not alone if you’re struggling with anxiety or postpartum anxiety. It’s more common than you think. Your postpartum anxiety doesn’t define you, nor does it have anything to do with determining whether you’re a good parent or not. Knowing that you need help and reaching out for it proves that you are a good parent.