New Mom Jitters Postpartum Anxiety

When I became a mother, something in my soul was awakened. A fire, I didn’t know was there. A love I always yearned for, but never felt. I realized everything before that moment didn’t matter anymore. My story, my past. None of it. The only thing I could feel was this overflowing abundance of love for this tiny new human that I had made. This wonderful gift from God.

The proudest moment of my life was looking into his eyes for the first time.

The first few days home, I cried so hard. I was overly emotional. I wondered if it was postpartum depression but I never really got it checked out. All of the stuff I had googled made postpartum depression sound like a horrible plague where you hate your child and don’t want anything to do with them. That wasn’t the case for me. I was overly in love with my new bundle of joy. I was just unstable.

New Mom Jitters or Something More Serious?

I would have breakdowns every couple of days where I would just cry. It wasn’t that I was sad, I was just worried. Overly worried, like something bad was going to happen to him. This made me super protective. I hated letting other people hold him. I felt like they weren’t going to do it right. When it came to sleep, I didn’t put him in his own room, I made him stay in our room, beside me in his rock and play.

My birthday was three days after his birth and I couldn’t even leave the house for an hour with my husband because I felt like I had to be there with my baby. Was this normal?

I brushed my feelings off as new mom jitters. I mean, your hormones are so screwed up after you have a baby, you will literally laugh hysterically at something and then cry a river two minutes later. Completely normal, right?

But the days passed, and then weeks passed, and I still felt off. I wanted to put a label on what I was feeling but I couldn’t and it was frustrating. I was nervous all the time, worried, snappy to my innocent husband, sad. But why?! Why was I feeling this way? I had everything I had ever wanted. I was honestly so happy but at the same time so stressed. It was like an alter ego of Jekyll and Hyde.

During my first follow up appointment with my OBGYN, I told her how I was feeling. “Totally normal,” she said as she recommended different brands of depression medicine. I declined. I was breastfeeding and already on something that was considered safe for the baby. I drove home that day in tears because I felt like everyone was brushing off my feelings.

Finally, after several late nights of research and talking to friends and family, I realized it wasn’t postpartum depression that I was suffering from, it was postpartum anxiety (or perinatal anxiety). Cousin to postpartum depression, only 10% of new moms get it. [via Postpartum Support International.]

What is Postpartum (Perinatal) Anxiety?

Postpartum anxiety is a condition that causes you to feel a constant, paralyzing sense of worry. You worry constantly about the health and development of your baby. You question your ability to be a good parent, you question how you’ll juggle work, being a new mom, being a good wife, and everything in between. It makes you feel restless, moody, and can even make you feel physically ill. Postpartum anxiety can begin before your baby is born and arise at any time within the first year. Below are other signs of Postpartum anxiety.

Signs of Postpartum or Perinatal Anxiety

  • anxiety or fear that interrupts your thoughts and interferes with daily tasks
  • panic attacks — outbursts of extreme fear and panic that are overwhelming and feel difficult to bring under control
  • anxiety and worries that keep coming into your mind and are difficult to stop or control
  • constantly feeling irritable, restless or on edge
  • having tense muscles, a tight chest and heart palpitations
  • finding it difficult to relax and/or taking a long time to fall asleep at night
  • anxiety or fear that stops you going out with your baby
  • anxiety or fear that leads you to check on your baby constantly.
  • Your thoughts are racing. You can’t quiet your mind. You can’t settle down. You can’t relax.
  • You feel like you have to be doing something at all times. Cleaning bottles. Cleaning baby clothes. Cleaning the house. Doing work. Entertaining the baby.

If you are experiencing any of the above feelings, know that you ARE NOT ALONE. These inner feelings do not indicate your worthiness as a mother. They are expected and treatable symptoms of a common disorder.

When I first started feeling these signs of postpartum anxiety, I did feel alone. I talked to a few friends who had babies and none of them could relate to what I was feeling. That’s when I decided to reach out to a local perinatal therapist who recommended I look up Postpartum Support International.

I joined their online community (for free) and had access to an online support group and informative blogs that reassured me I was not alone. I also learned different methods to cope with my postpartum anxiety. Here is what I found worked for me:

How to Cope with Postpartum Anxiety

Prioritize Sleep

We all know as a new parent, getting a good night’s sleep is a struggle. This is where I HAD to ask for help. Whether it was my husband taking over for the day and letting me catch up on sleep, or reaching out to family for their help. I had to get some rest to recharge my body and mind so that I could give my best self.

Exercise

Exercise assists in postpartum anxiety recovery by increasing energy, metabolizing stress hormones, and by helping women get out of their heads. I was so lucky to have access to a personal trainer at my work during this hard time. I remember working out one day and feeling an overwhelming sense of euphoria. Holding back (happy) tears, I expressed my gratitude to Jen for helping me feel better about myself and bringing out the “good” in me.

Do Something For Yourself

Being a mom means putting everyone else before yourself but if you find yourself suffering from postpartum anxiety, you have to treat yourself a little different. Go get a pedicure, go get your hair done, make an appointment at Sephora to have someone do your make up. Anything that makes you feel good, do it!

How Long Does Postpartum Anxiety Last?

There’s a general notion that postpartum depression and anxiety should be over by the time your baby turns one, but that is not always the case. It really depends on how long you waited to reach out for help, whether or not you have a history of anxiety and depression, what your home environment is like, how much support you are receiving, and how dedicated you can be to treatment and self-care practices. Here’s a great article on recovery.

The most important thing to remember is that no matter how pervasive your symptoms are, you can certainly get better. You won’t feel like this forever, as long as you’re willing to get treatment and care. According to postpartum.org, factors that may minimize the length of your anxiety include:

  • Recognizing the symptoms and getting help early
  • Self-care practices
  • Support Groups
  • Consultation with your doctor about medication options
  • Developing a personal support system that may include a partner, friends, or parents
  • Private counselling services

For me personally, once I took the time to focus on my mental health and recharge myself, I noticed a positive change in my mood and overall health. I went through postpartum anxiety for about 6 months before I noticed things getting better.

If you have any of these symptoms or you’re experiencing what I did. First and foremost, know that you are not alone. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. If you’re embarrassed or feel like you have no one to turn to, reach out to me! You got this mama! There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Attachment Parenting: Because I Want to Raise a Spoiled Brat

Attachment Parenting. Ah, it rings a melody to my ears. The hugging, the kissing, the cuddling, and smelling all the baby head I can smell. Sounds divine, right? It is.

That is until you hear all of the misconceptions that people have on attachment parenting. Unfortunately, the general assumption seems to be that meeting a child’s needs, for example: not letting them cry it out, is equal to giving a child everything they want, or spoiling them. (GASP!)

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Contrary to popular belief, attached parents don’t want to raise a spoiled brat. I certainly don’t, and I know my husband doesn’t either.

So let’s talk about what attachment parenting really is, and what it is not.

Attachment parenting is…

Attachment Parenting is putting your child’s needs first.

Since my son was born, I have responded consistently and immediately to his needs so that he feels loved and secure in this world. No I don’t want him to think the world revolves around him, but I do want him to know that his mother loves him with all her heart. He’ll never have to question that.

Attachment Parenting is being sensitive and responsive to your child’s emotions.

A study done on American kids ages 9-11 showed kids with secure attachment relationships–and greater levels of maternal support–showed “higher levels of positive mood, more constructive coping, and better regulation of emotion.” (Kerns et al 2007).

Case closed. I don’t need to argue that one.

Attachment Parenting is lots of skin-to-skin.

I love skin-to-skin and all the cuddling that comes with it. This close contact helps your baby meet their need for physical contact, affection, security, and stimulation.

Whoever came up with the idea that “holding a baby will spoil them” was just a downright dummy. Sorry to all you dummies who may be reading this.

Attachment parenting is not..

Attachment Parenting is not leaving your child to cry it out.

For those that follow the Attachment Parenting style, crying it out, isn’t a choice. Honestly, we hate to even acknowledge that there is such a thing.

Attachment Parenting is not giving your child whatever they want.

Nope, my child does not get whatever he wants when he wants it. In fact, it’s actually easier for me to say no to a toy when I know that I’ve given him my ALL, physically and emotionally.

Attachment Parenting does not mean there is no discipline.

Attachment Parenting discipline consists of firm boundaries, enforced with compassion. It’s understanding child development and knowing that toddlers have tantrums because they’re having a hard time, not because they’re giving you a hard time.

I didn’t choose attachment parenting.

To be quite frank with you, I didn’t choose attachment parenting. Attachment Parenting chose me. Before my son, I had very little experience in the parenting department (Ok, I had none). But when that little bundle of joy was placed into my arms, my heart melted, along with my sanity, and I kind of just went with the card I was dealt with.

If we’re being completely honest here, I love my parenting style and I think I’m pretty good at this “mom thing.” No matter what parenting style you decide to go with, it’s your choice. It’s your child. Do what feels right for you and your baby. Everything is gonna be ok.