How to deal with anxiety as a new mother

Shutterstock.com/ KieferPix

Being a new mother is incredibly tough. While all new stages of life cause anxiety the idea that you now have to look after another life, that another life depends on you entirely, is incredibly frightening. If you are anxious about your new role then do not worry. Every mother has felt exactly what you are feeling. While that is true, there is a stage where anxiety becomes too much and you may need to seek help. Let’s look at how to solve anxiety and when to recognize that it is becoming too much.

If you are worried about your baby’s health, if you are waking up at all hours to check your baby is sleeping, if you are afraid to leave your baby’s side for fear of what will happen, then welcome to motherhood. This is all very normal and my friends and I (who are mothers) will often look back and laugh at how stressed we were during those early stages of motherhood. However, over time you should see improvements.

The things that you feat are all part of growing up for a child. They may get sick, that is ok. They may get hurt, that is ok too. They may even wake up at night, that is just fine. It will take time but you should start to slowly realize what your child needs and the best way to do that is to be informed and aware. 

In general, we are most frightened of what we don’t understand. If you have just had a new baby you likely feel unprepared and underqualified for the task at hand. Start to recognize when you are doing well and tell yourself that you are the perfect person for the job. You are that child’s mother and that means you are the perfect person. If you do feel a little lost then start to read up more about how to raise a child and get some answers to fears that you have. Information is the best cure for anxiety. 

However, sometimes anxiety is irrational. If this is the case then you need to find other ways to let go. Let your husband or mother look after your child for a few hours while you go for a yoga class. Don’t feel like you are on your own and that asking for help makes you a bad mother. Asking for help is exactly what makes you a great mother.

Examine your own behavior and make sure that your anxiety is not bordering on postpartum depression. The baby blues are a very common occurrence. If you are letting negativity and anxiety creep into all aspects of your life (not just those baby-related) then you may be suffering from depression and should seek out professional help. If it is just your new role that is making you anxious then you are not yet depressed but a professional could still help if you do feel overwhelmed. 

Professional psychologists don’t need to be the first solution. Start by talking to other mothers. If you don’t know any, join a group, there are many in your area. This will allow you to share your concerns and learn from the wise minds in the room. If you are unprepared, become prepared. Take a class in CPR, first aid, babyproof the house. Create a reality where you are comfortable in all situations because you are so well informed. If neither of these work, then talk to a professional about how you are feeling and what you can do to solve it.

Postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression are two incredibly common feelings for a new mother. Don’t be ashamed of how you are feeling and please use your family, friends, and community to get through it.