Studies show that postpartum anxiety affects 10 to 20 percent of new mothers. Postpartum anxiety can look like many things, so we’ll spend time digging into the five most common indicators so that you can stay vigilant about seeking the help you need.
1. Excessive Worrying
It’s normal for new mothers to worry about their babies’ well-being and their new role as parents. However, for women with postpartum anxiety, these worries become excessive, uncontrollable, and intrusive. These intrusive thoughts consist mainly of fearing that something bad will happen to the baby or obsessing over small details such as the temperature of the nursery or the cleanliness of toys. This level of worry can be exhausting and interfere with daily activities and a mother’s ability to relax.
Postpartum anxiety can also manifest itself physically, causing feelings of restlessness and agitation. Many mothers with this condition report feeling constantly on edge and unable to relax or sit still. Restlessness can not only be uncomfortable but also make it difficult for new mothers to get much-needed rest.
It’s important to speak with your preferred care provider about potential solutions and remedies for restlessness, which may include medications. Some medications may affect lactation, so if you’re breastfeeding, make sure you understand how the chosen medication could interfere with your baby’s nutrition. Addressing these concerns early and transparently is vital to ensuring optimal rest and success.
3. Changes in Appetite
One of the most common indicators of postpartum anxiety is a drastic change in appetite. Some women may experience a loss of appetite, while others may turn to food as a coping mechanism and overeat.
These changes can lead to weight gain or loss, further adding to the mother’s stress and potentially affecting her self-confidence. If you begin struggling with body confidence during the postpartum period, it’s essential to note that these feelings are normal, regardless of your eating habits. There are a range of ways to build body confidence during the postpartum period, including making the necessary dietary changes, journaling, and simply moving your body consistently.
4. Difficulty Sleeping
Lack of sleep is a well-known struggle for new mothers, but for those with postpartum anxiety, getting enough sleep can be even more of a challenge. Many women with this condition report difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep due to racing thoughts and worry. This lack of sleep can then contribute to other postpartum issues, such as fatigue and mood swings.
5. Physical Symptoms
Postpartum anxiety can also manifest itself in physical ways that may not seem directly related to mental health. Some common physical symptoms include headaches, dizziness, chest pain, and shortness of breath. If you experience any of these symptoms in addition to other indicators mentioned above, you may have postpartum anxiety.
Seeking help for one or more of these indicators is one of your best paths forward. It’s essential to understand that whether you or someone you know is struggling, postpartum anxiety is a well-researched and known condition with a wide range of solutions and remedies. Giving yourself grace as you wade through these new waters is paramount.
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