“I’ve heard of Postpartum Depression but what is Pregnancy and Postpartum Anxiety?”

“How can I tell if my Anxiety is something to be concerned about or if it is New Mom Jitters?”

 15- 20% of women experience Postpartum Anxiety and Depression (PSI, 2010).  But did you know that some women may experience Pregnancy Anxiety or Postpartum Anxiety with or without the signs of depression?

So is it New Mom Jitters or Pregnancy and Postpartum Anxiety ? New Mom Jitters are normal, the fear, worry and adjustment to being a mother are part of the transition.

Many women don’t openly talk about how hard it really is! So how do we know what is normal and what is not? We are bombarded by so much information from pre-conception to birth. Experts and Doctors spelling out  the “Do’s” and “Don’ts”. How can women not be anxious, overwhelmed and fearful?

So, how do I know if my worries have gotten too big?  First It’s “OK” to struggle and second don’t get overwhelmed by thinking about your anxiety. Educate yourself to help yourself. You can come out of this and feel like yourself again.

What does Pregnancy and Postpartum Anxiety look like?

Worrying all the time

New Moms worry but if anxiety changes your routine or you are unable to do activities that you did before the baby, such as driving or going to the store, this is a concern. Ditto if you are pregnant.

Uncontrollable thoughts that something bad is going to happen

New Moms have these thoughts ( normal) but if you can’t control or talk yourself out of thinking about something bad you need to talk to someone. Same thing if you are pregnant and worried.

Changes in sleep and appetite

New moms are sleep deprived. But, if you can’t sleep when the baby is sleeping, or when your hubby/partner is on baby duty then you need to have this checked out.

You should be so exhausted that you sleep any chance you get. If you are pregnant and your worries are waking you and you can’t eat check it out.

Unable to relax, difficulty sitting still, paying attention

Can’t watch TV, a movie or focus on what you need to do. This is more than New Mom Jitters. If pregnant and these symptoms fit, you need to have someone peak at you too.

Memory problems

Goes without saying a lack of sleep messes with us but if you get some shut eye and you still are struggling, Pregnant or New Mom you need to see someone ASAP.

Hot flashes, dizziness, nausea

Not fun, could be hormones or even your thyroid but you need to find out!  Pregnant and suffering from severe morning sickness you need help and this is a physical and emotional strain on you and your baby. Talk to your Doc.

Panic Attacks

May include:

  • difficulty breathing
  • chest pain
  • racing heart
  • numbness and tingling of your hands and feet

First time it happens can be very scary and many New Moms don’t know what is going on. Don’t wait, find out if you need help.  It could have a medical cause too.

Compulsive Behaviors

  • Thoughts about baby which are uncontrollable or repetitive and stick in your head:

Stuck on something like, “Did I change the baby’s diaper,when you just did it 5 minutes ago, but can’t convince yourself you did. It keeps cycling through your brain.

Another example…If you are anxious when pregnant you may think obsessively about what you ate and if it hurt the baby.

  • Thoughts that are upsetting and are not something you have felt or experienced.
  • Doing things over and over to make your fears and obsessions smaller or more manageable.

Examples inlclude cleaning, organizing, reorganizing, checking and counting.

Or sitting and sliding down the stairs with your baby because you don’t want to drop the baby walking down the stars.

  • Obsessions and compulsions are frightening to you:

You are scared to be left alone with the baby and don’t want to hold the baby because your fear of dropping the baby is scaring you to the extreme.

 All new moms are scared of dropping their baby… a common fear but if you don’t want to hold the baby or pass the baby off as quick as you can to someone else you need to talk to someone. (If you are pregnant you may be overly anxious or obsessed about complications or the delivery ).

  • Don’t want to be left alone with baby

It is scary being a new mom and the responsibility can be overwhelming. But, if  fear is crippling you and you can’t handle the thought of being alone with your baby than you need to reach out.

  • Overly protective of baby.

You don’t want anyone else to look after the baby, hold the baby or touch the baby.

Who does this happen too?

Someone may be at risk of developing pregnancy and postpartum anxiety if they have a history of:

  • Anxiety
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD),
  • Bipolar disorder and have experienced anxiety or depression with a previous pregnancy
  • Infertility treatments
  • Birth loss
  • Traumatic birth experience
  • Family history of a thyroid imbalance
  • Medical complication during pregnancy and or underlying health problem….

But sometimes there is no reason and you can be depressed too. Anxiety and depression are often closely linked.

It is important to know that postpartum anxiety or depression can appear up to 12 months after the birth of a baby. Untreated, women can suffer for several years.

Furthermore, Postpartum Anxiety and Depression CAN have long term mental health effects on your baby and family.

Pregnancy and Postpartum Anxiety can be treated with the help of maternal mental health professionals and your doctor. Educate yourself and know your symptoms so you can talk to your doctor or therapist openly about what you are experiencing.  You are not alone and we are here to help you at Life Counseling Solutions with confidential care.

Questions, or help with the New Mom Jitters, Pregnancy and Postpartum Anxiety call Life Counseling Solutions at 407- 622-1770 or book your first appointment here online. 

Author: Marva Caldwell

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