It is normal to feel overwhelmed with excitement, joy, and fear.
Research indicates that one in five mums experience mental health issues when pregnant or within a year of having a baby.
I am one of those.
Postnatal anxiety is a severe issue since a quarter of maternal deaths that occur from six weeks to a year of childbirth are associated with mental health problems.
Therefore, parents need to be aware of postnatal anxiety and depression and ways to cope with it.
Read on for my tips for dealing with anxiety after childbirth.
What Is Postnatal Anxiety?
With the array of emotions that comes with childbirth, your body can be in shock.
Sometimes you experience extreme joy or fear and sadness at the same time.
If negative feelings begin to affect your life, then you may have postpartum anxiety.
Apart from the emotional symptoms, you may experience panic attacks, headaches, difficulty in sleeping, and a churning feeling in your stomach.
The symptoms usually become evident weeks after birth.
Some people may have difficulties bonding with their babies, others find it hard to make decisions – the symptoms vary from person to person.
Ten Simple Tips To Help You Cope With Postnatal Anxiety
Postpartum anxiety is treatable with certain medications and therapy, and you may find some of the following tips help you to manage symptoms effectively:
1. Create Time To Take Care Of Yourself
Parenthood comes with numerous responsibilities, and you often forget to put yourself first.
Do not take on a lot of work soon after pregnancy.
Instead, give your body time to heal.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, ask your partner or a trusted adult to babysit while you take a couple of hours to relax every so often.
To ensure you also have time to take care of yourself, schedule a few hours a week to decompress.
You can go to a movie or do something fun, catch up on your favourite TV shows, or sleep!
Exercise is an excellent antidepressant and can really help postpartum anxiety.
Therefore, it’s a brilliant idea to develop an exercise routine, even if it is a 10 minute stroll a day.
Walking keeps your anxiety levels low and keeps you fit.
You can also enjoy the fresh air during a walk, which is pretty good for the soul!
Yoga is also a perfect exercise after childbirth; it is relaxing and keeps your emotions in check.
3. Eat Healthily To Help Kick Postnatal Anxiety To The Curb
While healthy eating may not cure mental health issues, it does keep your body healthy.
Many people turn to junk food when they are anxious, and this is counterintuitive.
After pregnancy especially, it is crucial to eat nutritious foods for a healthy body.
Snack on fruits and vegetables and maintain a balanced diet; you will feel the benefits, and help to curb mental health issues.
4. Have A Network Of Support
Isolation will only worsen your state of mental health.
Talking to your friends or partner about your feelings is a great way to relieve pressure, and the feeling of being overwhelmed.
Sharing your fears and emotions without judgement is the perfect way to destress.
Having a network of support helps give you the strength to cope.
If you don’t have anyone you can trust with your innermost thoughts, there is your GP, local support groups, online therapy sites and also organisations such as Mind.
5. Get Enough Rest – One Of The Hardest, Yet Most Effective Strategies To Help Postnatal Anxiety
Sleep deprivation and mental health problems do not go well together.
Therefore, ensure you try to go to sleep early, and get adequate rest.
Resist watching TV the whole night or browsing social media.
An hour or two less of sleep escalates your anxiety, especially if you are tired and stressed.
While you have to wake up to feed the baby, ensure you take a nap during the day.
If a nap is out of the question, just a little lie down on the sofa whilst your children are playing can work wonders.
6. Join A Postnatal Support Group
Support groups for mums can give you the strength to express your feelings instead of bottling them up.
Most of the groups are usually led by professionals who can provide advice on how to cope with postnatal anxiety.
I went to a wonderful support group after the birth of my 3rd child when i was suffering with postnatal anxiety.
It was great to be in a room with other parents who felt the same as me, and who I could open up to without fear of being misunderstood.
7. Prioritise Your Relationship With Your Partner
After pregnancy and childbirth, many couples drift apart.
The responsibility that comes with raising a newborn can fracture a couple’s relationship very quickly.
However, carving out some time to spend with your partner is a must, even if it’s a dinner at home together whilst your children sleep, or getting into a netflix series together.
8. Bond With Your Baby
Postpartum depression and anxiety often interferes with the emotional bonding between a mother and the baby.
Therefore, you can learn how to bond with your child to help your body release the oxytocin hormone, which promotes positive emotions.
Here are some ways to bond with your baby if you’re finding it a little hard.
9. Use Breathing Exercises To Calm Down
If you’re being plagued by panic attacks or anxiety, breathing exercises can help you control your emotions and calm down.
You can practice deep breathing, to help you relax, and learning mindfulness really helps to calm your mind.
10. Go For Therapy
If the above ways to deal with postnatal anxiety do not help to improve your symptoms, you can seek professional assistance from your GP, Health Visitors, or Midwives.
Therapy can help you manage the condition, as can medication.
CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is particularly good for anxiety sufferers – I can vouch for this.
Tips To Help You Cope With Postnatal Anxiety
While postnatal anxiety and depression is common, many women suffer in silence just like I did when I had my first child.
Isolating yourself and bottling up feelings escalates mental health problems, but I know too well that sometimes that’s all you are able to do.
Sharing your problems and feelings with someone you trust can help, as well as getting fresh air and eating healthily.
Medication and therapy are also perfectly acceptable ways to help the symptoms of postnatal mental health issues, and exploring all your options available to you will help.