When I was pregnant with my son, I was filled with a lot of anxiety. This was expected for me - as he was my rainbow baby (pregnancy/baby following a loss). I remember thinking, “if I can just get through this pregnancy, everything will be easier.” And while yes, a lot of fears were alleviated once he was in my arms - they were replaced with new ones. Anxiety as a new mom is very common, and today I am going to share some tips to navigate that based on my own experience!
If we are meeting for the first time - Hi! Welcome to Vibrant Mama Wellness! My name is Megan, and I am a pre and postnatal personal trainer. I am certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, with a specialization in pre+postnatal fitness through PROnatal fitness. I am a mom of 1, and became interested in pre + postnatal fitness as I was going through my own pregnancy journey!
(Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. This blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or condition. This blog post is based on my own research and experience - please consult a medical professional if you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression).
Okay so first let’s discuss - what is normal?
Many mothers are warned of the “baby blues.” According to the American Pregnancy Association, 70-80% of new mothers experience negative feelings and mood swings following the birth of their baby. This is likely due to hormonal fluctuations, but the exact cause is unknown. It could also be due to the chronic lack of sleep (and if you’ve been up multiple nights with a newborn, you know how sleep deprivation makes you feel!!) Some common symptoms of baby blues are: weepiness, impatience, restlessness, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, sadness, mood changes, and poor concentration.
Usually the baby blues lifts within a few weeks, but if you notice these feelings lasting beyond that, I highly recommend reaching out to your doctor. Postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression happens to a lot of mothers, and your doctor can help you get the support you need!
I was lucky that I was not struggling with postpartum anxiety or depression, however I was still dealing with anxiety when it came to parenting. I was always wondering if I was making the right decisions, if things he was doing were “normal,” worrying about his sleeping patterns and generally just overwhelmed by all the parenting information that was out there. It is both a blessing and a curse that we live in the information age - literally every question we have can type into google and we can get pages and pages of answers.
But at what point is it overriding our motherly instincts?
One thing in particular I remember is when I was worried about my sons sleeping patterns. Everyone would ask “how is he sleeping?” This started as soon as we got him home from the hospital. And of course, he was waking up multiple times a night. But with all these questions and opinions, I started wondering that maybe he was waking up too much! Was he supposed to be sleeping through the night? Was I doing something wrong?
From other mothers I’ve talked to in my online community, I know that I’m not alone in questioning my decisions and parenting. It is so hard not to compare your baby to everyone else's, and to not be upset by other peoples comments!
Now that my son is a year old, I have learned some ways to deal with this anxiety, and wanted to share if you find yourself in a similar situation.
1. Set boundaries when it comes to social sharing.
One thing I have learned is that people LOVE to share their opinions on social media. Whenever I would share an update about my son's development or struggles we were having, I would get opinions from other people, or judgements, that were not at all helpful. I know that generally these comments are coming from a good place (people want to help), but when you are already questioning your decisions, you don’t need other people placing a doubt in your mind. So I set limits. I muted/unfollowed accounts that made me feel like I was “failing” (i.e. specifically baby sleep accounts!) and stopped sharing details of my son’s life. If I wanted advice, I had trusted sources that I felt safe talking to. But I learned that the opinions of people on facebook and instagram didn’t help me - so I had to set that boundary.
There is so much power in journaling. This was (and continues to be) a great outlet for me. Oftentimes when I write out the anxious thoughts swirling around in my head, I can see that they aren’t based in reality or fact. This helps ground me, and I can start to rework those thoughts and stop spiraling.
Another incredible tool is meditation! I take about 5-10 minutes a day to sit in silence, and go inward. I love using apps, my favorites are Expectful and Calm. Taking this time to focus on my breath brings my awareness to my body (and out of my mind) and it helps me step back from those anxious thoughts that I’m having, and not let them consume me.
4. Talk to a therapist
By far this is the best tool in my toolbox! I found my therapist through Postpartum Support International. Having an objective person to talk through all the things I am experiencing in parenthood has been so helpful. Not only does it feel good to get the fears off my chest and not feel judged, but she helps me work through and learn how to cope with them.
Anxiety as a new mom is inevitable. We are all doing something completely new, and it makes sense that we would have fears! Remember that you are doing the best you can, and you are the best mom for your baby! And if you need to reach out for help, there is absolutely no shame in that. We can’t do this motherhood thing alone!
Did these tips help? Have others? Let me know in the comments!
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Disclaimer: This blog does not serve as medical advice. Please consult your medical provider before starting a new fitness routine. This blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition.