How anxiety shows up for moms, and our go-to's for coping.
Constantly on edge.
Cold sweats and shaking hands.
Checking. And checking again.
Anxiety has many ways of showing up, and these are just a few of the hundreds of answers I got when I asked how postpartum anxiety shows up for you.
It’s in the nerves and shallow breaths, yes, but it’s also in the vigilance and midnight googling. It’s in the overthinking, the insomnia, and the social avoidance.
Personally, I’m no stranger to anxiety, and after the birth of each of my babies, it hit me hard.
At first, I felt utterly alone. Like I must have been the only mom double-checking all the things and feeling genuinely daunted about bedtime…
Because it’s so easy to assume, right? That everyone else surely has it completely ‘together’ 100% of the time? That every other mom has it all figured out, without the butterflies and nausea that accompany the day-to-day events that used to go by unnoticed…like car journeys, for example - because…what if he needs a feed when we’re on the freeway?!
But the truth is - there are MANY of us walking this same road.
1 in 10, to be precise.
Anxiety in early motherhood is something that our society largely minimises or ignores. But it is here. It’s sitting next to us at baby sign classes, and across from us at the playground. It’s your sister, it’s your bff, it’s me.
If you can relate, please know that you aren't alone and that support is available - if not in-person, then via likeminded online communities, or organisations such as Postpartum.net - because sometimes, simply knowing that we aren't alone can bring comfort to fraught minds.
Yup, experts around the globe agree: support plays a crucial role in coping with anxiety. But what else helps? Sometimes, the rather 'simplistic' yet highly-effective three steps of recognising, accepting and affirming can stop an anxiety spiral in its tracks:
- Notice the anxiety.
- Accept the feelings, without judgment.
- Affirm safety: "I am safe in my body."
In general, regular practises of exercise, mindfulness and relaxation techniques are widely-trusted tools for managing persistent anxiety, as well as the benefits of rest and nourishment, alongside therapy and medication where indicated. Sometimes though, the tools and techniques pitched at us from outside of the postpartum realm can feel a little…out of reach. A little ‘otherly’ or even intimidating. So, I asked the Mother Nourish Nurture community (via Instagram) what brings relief when it comes to dealing with postpartum anxiety. Here are some of the words of wisdom shared…
New motherhood - and motherhood in general - can be a catalyst for anxiety, and if you’re reading this with half of your thinking space consumed with worry and exhaustion, please know that you’re not alone. That you’re not - in ANY way - broken. That healing and balance are just as much yours as they are mine.
Go gently, mama.