Originally found at EmbodyedTides.com, Carly’s website for everything health.
Are you a first-time Mama? Maybe a 2nd-time, 3rd, or even more?
Motherhood is one of the most incredible journeys you can take in this life. It can also be one of the most challenging. It seems that despite all the joy it can bring, worry and doubt inevitably follow closely behind. Especially in the very beginning! Having a newborn is beautiful, confusing, invigorating and chaotic all at once.
Amidst all the “newness” with an infant at home, so much else is asked of you: handling intense changes to your body and your hormones, suffering sleep deprivation, facing emotional meltdowns, navigating a changed relationship with your partner – all while raising Baby! It can feel draining or impossible to manage.
We’ve come to find that approximately 10-15% of women experience some sort of postpartum mental health and wellness issue (Postpartum lasts about 6 weeks after baby is born). One of the biggest myths out there around Postpartum Anxiety is that it only happens with the first baby. Well, I’m here to let you know that is simply not true! And experiencing it does not make you any less of a good mother. To combat this and other myths out there, I’ve listed below 5 tips on how to make your way through postpartum anxiety – you don’t have it go it alone.
1. Let someone know. It might be your OB/GYN, midwife/doula, baby’s pediatrician – but when you share your very natural feelings or concerns about being a “bad mom,” or if intrusive thoughts of hurting the baby enter your mind, healthcare professionals can guide you towards additional support. They can refer you to a specialized maternal wellness therapist who will be with you during this painful time. Someone else who can hold space for you to share your concerns and help address them from an objective point of view.
2. Nurture yourself. Otherwise known as “self-care,” absolutely offer yourself chances to replenish! This might be eating a delicious, healthy meal. Taking naps. Listening to music or watching a favorite TV show. Walking or finding other exercise that supports you feeling good in your body.
3. Take breaks. Now this one, I know, is not always easy. “Sleep when baby sleeps” is not always possible! But perhaps the break is silencing your phone, and instead picking up a magazine or good book. It might be asking your partner or family members who are visiting to hold the baby while you get to the store or run an innocuous errand – maybe even something non-maternal to (re)identify with yourself.
4. Enlist your friends and family. Similarly to the break mentioned above, don’t be afraid to take your girlfriend up on her offer to bring you a cup of tea, or meet you at the mall for a stroll. And when she comes over, let her run a load of laundry. Or if you need to cry – take that box of tissues and let the tears flow! Good support systems are crucial, and often a neglected component of early parenting in our culture.
5. Thank the Anxious part of you. This tip may appear somewhat strange. “Why would I thank the part of me that worries?” In truth, your anxiety is not you. It is a part of you, and exists somewhat, from an evolutionary standpoint, to protect you. If you can find compassion for it, and express gratitude of its role, you may be able to forgive the distress it has caused. This acceptance can free you from believing that it defines who you are, but rather welcome it simply as another element that makes you human.
*For additional support and resources, visit www.postpartumprogress.com and www.postpartumstress.com. Also suggested is Karen Kleiman’s book, “Dropping the Baby and Other Scary Thoughts: Breaking the Cycle of Unwanted Thoughts in Motherhood.”
(*Original post submitted in collaboration with Empowered Therapy, Inc, as a part of their Motherhood Series.)
Carly McDade, LMFT is a licecnsed therapist in Philadelphia, PA supporting women to have vibrant lives. She has a special spot for new moms, supporting them in individual, couples, and group therapy. To contact Carly e-mail McDadeMFT@gmail.com