Even before I fell pregnant I was well aware of Post Natal Depression and the impact it has on those who experience it. Whilst I’d never personally experienced any form of depression (though this doesn’t mean you are predisposed if you have) it was on my radar because if nothing else, years of IVF had left me pretty fragile.
When my son was born I instantly fell truly, madly, deeply in love. But given my lack of preparation for this motherhood gig a whole new set of anxiety kicked in and I felt completely out of my depth. I was use to being in control of my professional life and I was relatively confident on a personal level as well. Of course at this point I didn’t know that most new mothers felt this way, I was too busy comparing myself to Angelina Jolie who seemed to be managing fine and she had a tribe of children. The crazy part of this was that my son, in hindsight, was an easy baby. So here I am – I had a healthy, happy, non colicky, relatively good sleeping baby and now a new emotion to deal with, I felt guilty for feeling anxious. In my head I had absolutely no reason to be anxious but in my heart I was in a constant state of worry. Baby sleep in particular became my obsession. Sleep times, wake times, cat naps, no naps – my heart was simultaneously bursting with love but aching with anxiety.
Post Natal Anxiety exists, it’s real and many new mums experience it daily. Here are my five tips to get through it.
Expectations are a tricky thing and it helps immensely if you can either lower them or let go of them entirely. Motherhood is hard and each day can bring new challenges. Don’t expect to always feel great and whilst some days things might just flow, other days can go pear shaped. If you simply let go of any expectations of how things are “meant to be” then this can take away enormous pressure.
Be present NOW
Don’t think or worry about the day ahead or the night ahead. Just enjoy the moment for what it is right at that present time. It became so much easier to mange my anxiety when I didn’t think too far ahead.
Get out of the house
This of course is easier said than done but oh how I wish I did this more often when I had a newborn. Take the stroller and get out walking. Grab a coffee, head to the park, get some fresh air, or visit a friend. I would often time the morning nap with a morning walk. The baby got to sleep and it was a tremendous way to clear the head and shake off any anxiety ridden thoughts.
Ask for Help
This is incredibly important. It might be help from a family member or friend who can watch the baby while you have some “me” time or it could be talking to your doctor. Simply telling people how you are feeling can make dealing with the emotions so much easier.
This too shall pass
I lost count the number of times I heard this in those first few months and I can honestly look back on every single instance that caused me my anxiety and it was true – it did pass.
Lastly, know this
You are your child’s mother and there is no perfect. You are enough. You’ve got this.
Please note: There is help available for people suffering from post natal anxiety. Please contact your doctor or PANDA or Beyond Blue