Scary thoughts about your baby? It could be PostPartum Anxiety
Updated: Mar 31
Imagine the excitement of bringing a baby into this world, a mini-you, having the opportunity for new life experiences and milestones…
But you can’t seem to bring yourself to enjoy these moments because you are feeling anxious….. or simply not like yourself.
You may be even experiencing scary thoughts about your baby. Images of hurting your baby or something really scary happening to your baby. You may not want to tell anyone about it, because you may be afraid that others may think you are a bad mom. Or even, the worst case possible scenario, your baby being taken away from you.
If this sounds familiar you might be experiencing postpartum anxiety.
Postpartum anxiety usually happens due to a sudden drop in hormones that causes emotional social and psychological changes after having a baby, but it can be treated with therapy and, if necessary, conjointly with prescription medicines. The difference between postpartum depression and anxiety is that the latter consumes the mother with thoughts of the baby, while depression causes the parent to reject the child.
Here are some of the most common symptoms:
Loss of appetite or excessive cravings
Reduced sex drive
A constant change in moods and in extreme cases suicidal thoughts
Always wondering if you are doing enough
Scary thoughts of negative things happening to the baby, either caused by the mom or bad situations (accidents, diseases, etc).
The anxiety brings about a high level of uncertainty on whether a mother is a good mom, or a mom that is doing enough for the child, as well as a significant amount of fear on what may go wrong.
Understanding the risk factors is a preventative approach to dealing with postpartum anxiety, as there are mothers who form a big percentage of the vulnerable group. Mothers with a history of eating challenges, experiences with miscarriage, the loss of a baby, or past mood-associated issues are more prone to postpartum anxiety. Having support throughout the pregnancy and post-pregnancy is a vital step in reducing the occurrence of postpartum anxiety. Stigma is also a risk factor some mothers are afraid of reporting symptoms because they fear their children may be taken away from them or placed under the temporary care of someone else. A trained therapist in pre and postpartum issues knows about this and would understand how this is related to anxiety and not seen as a risk factor for the baby.
Ways to deal with Postpartum Anxiety
Apart from preventive interventions, not missing your OBGYN check-ups is important to be able to diagnose any symptoms of anxiety and recommend the most effective treatment option.
The most effective and recommended treatment option is therapy, where the mother is taught relaxing techniques and provided with adequate emotional support. Therapy also provides mothers with a chance to access exercise guides to ease anxiety and mindfulness to comfort them when they are fearful.
In addition to therapy, taking anxiolytic and/or antidepressant medication like serotonin-reuptake inhibitors that reduce anxiety while allowing the mother to safely breast-feed the baby. Any side-effects associated with the specific anxiolytic or anti-depressant medication is discussed by the prescribing healthcare professional to ensure safety and consistent observation of the progress. There are many medications that are completely safe to use while nursing. If told otherwise, ask your doctor to consult with Postpartum International, which offers free medication consults with doctors.
Acupuncture is also recommended in dealing with anxiety and many users have reported the extensive benefits in reducing the symptoms over a period of about 3-4 months. The practice involves inserting long needles into different pressure points of the body stimulating a healing process. The body naturally induces healing in the punctures points and stimulates the brain in the process causing an increased control of emotions which includes reducing the nervousness.
It is important for pregnant women and mothers with newborns to find ways of relaxing and keeping their mind focused on positive activities and ways to bond with the baby.
Exercise is recommended as it is proven to reduce the symptoms of postpartum anxiety. It does not have to be high intensity exercise, but rather 30 minutes of activity.
Working on getting some sleep. Sleep is a very important factor, so finding ways to increase the amount of time slept is crucial.
Mother to mother, I want you to understand that anxiety is common and these symptoms are not a sign that you are incapable of taking care of your children. It just means you need time to take care of yourself, after all, you just gave birth to a human being.
Your Therapy Friend,
Sofia Robirosa is the owner of Infinite Therapeutic Services and is a Perinatal & Relationships Expert. She offers individual, couples
, and family counseling to individuals seeking to enhance their relationship with their children and significant other. Her private practice is located in Plantation, FL. She attended Nova Southeastern University for both her Bachelor and Master Degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy and in Business Administration. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, a Perinatal Mental Health Certified Professional, and a Leader in Active Parenting for children and teens. She loves her family, which consists of her husband, daughter and son, and two dogs. Some of her interests outside of work include spending time outdoors, traveling, and dining. Read more about her at: www.infinitetherapeuticservices.com and follow her on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/infinitetherapy/