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Do I have postnatal anxiety?

There seems to be a lot of talk around about postnatal depression but what about postnatal anxiety? I have heard myself saying for years "I think I had postnatal anxiety if that is a thing" not even knowing if it is an official medical term but feeling like it should be.

Retrospect really is a fine thing isn't it?

After a quick search I found this on the internet:

Symptoms of postpartum anxiety

Keep in mind that most (if not all) new parents experience some worry. But the symptoms of postpartum anxiety disorder include:

  • constant or near-constant worry that can’t be eased

  • feelings of dread about things you fear will happen

  • sleep disruption (yes, this is a hard one to pick out, since a newborn means your sleep will be disrupted even without having anxiety — but think of this as waking up or having trouble sleeping at times when your baby’s sleeping peacefully)

  • racing thoughts

As if all that wasn’t enough, you can also have physical symptoms related to postpartum anxiety, like:

  • fatigue

  • heart palpitations

  • hyperventilation

  • sweating

  • nausea or vomiting

  • shakiness or trembling

It goes onto say that you can also have postpartum panic disorder and postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), which are more specific types of postpartum anxiety disorder.

So without ever getting a diagnosis but with a gut feeling that this was me (although maybe not to the extremes described above), I would love to share with you what this looked like for me on a day to day basis. I have always been a worrier but following a long and gruelling infertility journey, the day my baby was born I literally felt my anxiety go 'through the roof.'

This is what it looked like:

- In Birthcare I had to have my baby's bassinet pushed right up to the bed, right by my face and I had to watch him constantly

- I was never able to sleep during the day when he slept as I just couldn't relax enough for that to happen. I felt I had to be constantly available and checking on him

- There were tears - ALOT of tears

- I felt on edge

- I worried so much if I was doing the right thing and being a good mum. This really clouded my ability to listen to my gut and trust myself. I questioned every single decision I made

- I lost a lot of weight

- When my bub slept during the day, I would race around and get jobs done, but in a frenzied kind of way, with a quick heartbeat and quick breathing

- I wouldn't let anyone else look after him

- I wouldn't break my rountine and have him nap at someone's house

- I just felt constantly on edge, stressed, worried and both in body and mind

- I just never relaxed

Now of course I don't know if this would be officially diagnosed as postnatal anxiety but looking back I feel like it was outside of the realms of normal, and it took a really long time to find some equilibrium again. In fact, I would go as far to say that I still suffer today somewhat and my son is almost 13. Obviously we have to factor in my generalised anxiety which is part of me as well.

I am the mum who isn't comfortable with her child wandering the streets as kids of his age seem to do. I am the mum who freaked out when my friend told me she was going to drop a bunch of kids (including mine) at the zoo and pick them up later. I am the mum who feels like she needs to be here after school everyday. I am the mum who has only just started leaving him home alone for brief periods of time and always tell him not to choke on anything while I am gone.

Yes, I am that mum.

I am also the mum who feels bad about what she might be teaching her son with all of this anxiety around his safety.

I am also the mum who feels bad that her anxiety is causing her to be controlling.

I am well aware of all of this and yet here I am.

So all I can say to you is if you are experiencing this kind of thing - please reach out and talk to someone. At the time my son was a baby I really didn't realise this was out of the ordinary. I was just getting through the days.

Talk to a friend, a family member, your doctor or message me. I will listen and help you xx

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