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Anxiety in Motherhood

I recently read that 1 in 5 moms and 1 in 10 dads will suffer from a perinatal mood (ie depression) or anxiety disorder.  The impact of sleep deprivation and shifts in relationships during the postpartum period can exacerbate this. I think every parent experiences some level of anxiety once they have children.  Worrying about what could happen to your baby, what to do in various situations, how to help your child when they cry, the list goes on. That is normal. It becomes a problem when the worries become more extreme or impair your functioning.

When my daughter was 3 years old and my son was 4 months old, my maternity leave was over.  We had moved to a new city and both my husband and I were starting new jobs. The day before I started my job, my husband had to go out of state for training for two weeks.

I was struggling with figuring out how to get myself and both kids fed and ready and where we needed to be on time, and the after work routine of making dinner, feeding the baby, washing the pump, making lunches for the next day, etc. etc. and doing it all by myself.  My heart also ached for my babies during the day after being home with them for the last 4 months. Eventually I started having trouble falling asleep at night. During the day, I was having trouble concentrating and focusing, felt like my heart was racing and I could not relax.  I was also becoming IRRITABLE. I “kept it together” so well that most people would not have guessed I was suffering from anxiety, but I recognized it and because of my background, I knew what resources were available to me and sought them out.

I am sharing this because I know that anxiety in motherhood is real and more common than people realize.  For some, there is a lot of guilt or shame surrounding this and some people suffer in silence or don’t recognize what it is.  You are not flawed, you are not a bad mother, you are not alone.

 
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Where to seek help for postpartum depression and/or anxiety:

  1. First and foremost contact your medical provider and seek support from a mental health professional.

  2. Reach out to family and friends. Ask for help with whatever you need. A meal, a sitter for a few hours to give you time to relax or workout or get a massage, someone to talk to. Remember that self care is NEVER selfish or indulgent. One of the best things you can do for your children is to take care of yourself first, so that you have the patience and energy to care for them. You can’t pour from an empty cup.

  3. Connect with other moms. When I became a mom, my identity and my friendships completely shifted. There were some friends who continued to reach out and connect and support me, but others who slowly lost touch as our lives were now different.  And that’s okay. But I wanted to connect with other moms who had been there or who were going through it with me. Two resources I have personally found to be so helpful are MOMS club and the Peanut app. MOMs club is an organization for local moms to join to connect and support each other. Depending on the chapter they offer everything from park dates, outings, moms night outs, and special events. The Peanut app is an app to meet and connect with local moms with similar interests and similarly aged children. I wish this app was around when my daughter was first born!

  4. Get moving. “When you have depression or anxiety, exercise often seems like the last thing you want to do. But once you get motivated, exercise can make a big difference.

    Exercise helps prevent and improve a number of health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis. Research on depression, anxiety and exercise shows that the psychological and physical benefits of exercise can also help improve mood and reduce anxiety.” - The Mayo Clinic

I would love to hear from you! Let us know what other things have helped during your during your journey through postpartum depression and/or anxiety.

This blog and website are my way of sharing what I have found helpful in my life and are not a substitute for seeking support from a licensed mental health professional.

 

 

Matt Hendon