I just had a baby why would I be anxious?
The other day, I visited my friend at University of Vermont Medical Center Mother and Baby Unit. She just gave birth to her daughter. Her life was full of joy and excitement. As I walked down the ocean blue hallways back to my car, I couldn’t help but wonder if my friend would develop postpartum anxiety. Why would I say that?
Symptoms of Postpartum Anxiety
We actually talked about it before she gave birth to her daughter. Since, she already lived with baseline anxiety it was a risk factor for postpartum anxiety. Also, being a mom to one baby or two, three, four, or more is a huge life change. It’s overwhelming, however, postpartum anxiety takes it up to another level. Key symptoms for postpartum anxiety:
- You’re not sleeping. You want to and you’re exhausted but you’re worried something is going to happen to the baby so you can’t sleep.
- You can’t eat. You have no appetite.
- You feel like a caged animal, pacing back and forth. You are restless; on edge.
- You’re thoughts race. You can’t shut off your mind. You can’t relax.
- You feel like you have to be doing something at all times. Laundry, dishes, cleaning the house, checking on the baby.
- You are worried. All the time. No matter what anyone says or reassures you it doesn’t help.
- You may have panic attacks (where it feels like an elephant is sitting on your chest).
- You are afraid of your own thoughts, because they were not the thoughts you expected have after the birth of your child.
- You are fearful to ask for help because you fear your child will be taken from you.
About 6-10% of postpartum women develop anxiety. Sometimes, anxiety is experienced alone or with postpartum depression. However, the larger point is that once you understand it you can get support and move through it.
Fast forward to 7 days later. My friend is home and there is not as much support as in the hospital. I go to visit her and I am holding her sweet baby girl. Tears are coming down my friend’s face. Being a mom is hard. The love she has for her baby unwavering. But, she’s not sleeping despite the help of her partner. Her mind won’t shut off. What if I’m doing something wrong? What if she isn’t getting enough to eat? What if I don’t change her in time?
Treating Postpartum Anxiety and Depression
She tells me that it’s time for her to begin her plan. Before she gave birth to her daughter she had discussed doctor next steps for medication. She’s going to call a therapist. I had given her names of colleagues (since we’re friends I can’t treat her) who specialized in treating postpartum anxiety and depression within Burlington, South Burlington, and Williston, VT. I smile and nod. I tell her, “The struggle is real, but you don’t have to go at it alone.”
If you are living with Postpartum Anxiety and/or Depression, please reach out if I can support you through this time. Additionally, it is fairly common for moms to bring their young infants to therapy sessions with them during the postpartum period for various reasons.
Until I write again,