Experiencing a bit of nervousness when welcoming your new baby is a completely normal part of the parenthood journey. The transition to a new schedule, bid farewell to a full night's sleep, and the learning curve of caring for your baby can be overwhelming. However, if these jitters, often referred to as "baby blues," start affecting most or every aspect of your life, it might be time to discuss postpartum anxiety with your doctor. With the right tools, you can confidently navigate parenthood while also addressing your mental health needs.
What is postpartum anxiety?
Postpartum anxiety (PPA) occurs when worries related to parenthood become overwhelming. While many new parents deal with this condition, it is often underdiagnosed, with over 20% of birthing parents experiencing anxiety. Additionally, 43% of Sense-U parents report symptoms of depression or anxiety after becoming parents. It's crucial to remember that support is available, and you are not alone.
Causes of postpartum anxiety:
Postpartum anxiety can stem from various factors, including hormonal fluctuations after childbirth, lack of sleep for new parents, and a history of general anxiety or previous experiences with this condition during pregnancies.
Symptoms of postpartum anxiety:
Postpartum anxiety can manifest in different ways, with variations like postpartum panic or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Parents experiencing postpartum anxiety may encounter symptoms such as challenges sleeping, restlessness, appetite changes, difficulty concentrating, racing thoughts, prolonged worry about caring for the baby, and physical symptoms like nausea and dizziness.
If you or someone you know is feeling intensely sad, anxious, or facing difficulties in daily activities, it's important to seek help from a psychologist, doctor, or mental health provider.
Postpartum anxiety-sleep connection:
Sleep problems are common symptoms of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, including postpartum anxiety. A survey by Sense-U Lab reveals that 15% of parents with a PMAD experience sleep disruptions, and 14% find anxiety related to sleep as their major concern during the newborn stage. Sense-U parents report an additional 36 nights of sleep per year, with 71% feeling less anxious.
Postpartum anxiety vs. postpartum depression
Postpartum anxiety is characterized by overwhelming worry and fear, while postpartum depression exhibits more typical symptoms of depression, such as frequent crying and persistent sadness. Both conditions fall under the perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMAD) umbrella, and it's possible to experience both simultaneously.
Signs to seek professional help for postpartum anxiety:
If postpartum anxiety significantly affects your everyday life, signs like insomnia related to concern for your baby's safety or an increase in panic attacks may indicate it's time to seek professional assistance. Seeking support from family, loved ones, and professionals is essential during this phase.
Supporting a loved one with postpartum anxiety:
Providing caregiver support is crucial for postpartum recovery. Partners can help by recognizing potential signs and symptoms, researching support organizations like Postpartum Support International, and offering emotional and logistical support. It's essential to create an open space for discussing feelings without judgment.
Self-care while coping with postpartum anxiety:
Healing from postpartum anxiety varies for each individual. Gentle self-care practices, such as exercising, maintaining hygiene, spending time with friends and family, and using tools like the Sense-U Baby Camera monitor, can contribute to managing anxiety. Sense-U parents report 71% less anxiety and 87% better management of baby's sleep.
Ways to reach out for help with postpartum anxiety:
If experiencing postpartum anxiety, ask your doctor about symptoms and potential mental healthcare providers. Joining support groups like MOPS or accessing online resources like Postpartum Support International can guide you to professional help.
In conclusion, postpartum anxiety can affect many new parents, and seeking help is crucial. Whether through parenting tools, support groups, therapy, or medication, finding relief is possible by taking the first step and asking for help.