Embracing Motherhood: Anxiety Support for New Mothers

Posted 23 May 2024


Becoming a mother is a transformative experience, full of both joy and challenges. For many new mums, this period can also bring anxiety, significantly impacting their well-being. The shift from being an individual to becoming a parent is profound, and it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. This blog aims to provide practical support, resources, and reassurance for new mothers experiencing anxiety, helping them navigate this new chapter of their lives with confidence.

Understanding Postpartum Anxiety

Postpartum anxiety is a condition some mothers can experience during pregnancy and/or after giving birth. Unlike postpartum depression, which is characterised by persistent sadness and lack of energy, postpartum anxiety can involves excessive worrying, fear, and nervousness. Common symptoms include persistient worry, feeling that something bad will happen, restlessness, and physical symptoms like a racing heart, dizziness, or difficulty breathing. Recognising these symptoms can help new mothers know when they need to reach our for additional support.

Postpartum anxiety can be triggered by various factors, including hormonal changes, relationship changes, societal pressures, changes at work, identity shifts, the stress of caring for a newborn, and lack of sleep. It’s essential to differentiate between normal new parent worries and anxiety that disrupts daily life. When anxiety interferes with a mother’s ability to function or enjoy her time with her baby, it’s crucial to seek help.

postpartum anxiety support

The Emotional Journey of New Motherhood

The journey of motherhood is filled with a spectrum of emotions. New mums often face societal pressures to be perfect, which can contribute to their anxiety. The expectation to be a “supermum” who can balance everything flawlessly is unrealistic, and damaging. Additionally, the sudden change in lifestyle and responsibilities can be overwhelming. Hormonal changes after childbirth can also affect mood and anxiety levels, making it even harder to cope with new stresses.

Understanding that these feelings are normal and that they are not alone in experiencing them is important for new mothers. The emotional rollercoaster that comes with caring for a newborn is a shared experience among many mothers. Accepting that it’s okay to feel anxious and seeking ways to manage it can help alleviate some of the pressure.

Practical Strategies for Managing Anxiety

There are several strategies that new moms can use to manage anxiety:

A. Self-Care Techniques

Importance of Sleep and Rest

Getting enough sleep is crucial for mental health. While it can be difficult with a newborn, taking naps when the baby sleeps can help. Lack of sleep can worsen anxiety, so prioritising rest is essential. Sometimes, asking a partner, family member, or friend to help can make a difference. Postpartum Doulas can also make home visits and support you as you take some much-needed rest.

Healthy Eating and Hydration

Eating balanced meals and staying hydrated can improve overall well-being and energy levels. Nutritional deficiencies can affect mood and energy, so maintaining a healthy diet is important. Simple, nutritious snacks can keep energy levels stable throughout the day. Preparing before baby comes and storing meals in the freezer for when needed is a game changer. Asking friends and family to bring over meals if they are visiting can also be a great support

Physical Activity

Gentle exercises like walking or postpartum yoga can reduce anxiety and improve mood. Physical activity releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. Even short, daily walks can make a significant difference in how a new mum feels.

B. Mindfulness and Relaxation Practices

  1. Deep Breathing Exercises: Practicing deep breathing can help calm the mind and reduce stress. Techniques such as inhaling deeply and slowly through the nose, holding the breath for a few seconds, and exhaling slowly out the nose can be very effective. This helps activate our parasympathetic nervous system which is our rest and digest response. This practice can be done anytime and anywhere.
  2. Meditation and Mindfulness: Spending a few minutes each day focusing on the present moment can help manage anxious thoughts. Apps and online resources can guide expectant and new mums through simple meditation exercises, making it easier to incorporate mindfulness into their daily routine.
  3. Yoga and Gentle Stretching: These activities combine physical movement with relaxation techniques, which can be very beneficial. Yoga poses designed for postpartum recovery can help new moms feel more centered and relaxed.

C. Cognitive Behavioural Techniques

Identifying and Challenging Negative Self-talk

Recognising when our self-talk is overly negative and reframing it in a more positive light can reduce anxiety. For instance, instead of thinking, “I’m a terrible mother,” a more balanced thought might be, “I’m doing my best, and it’s okay to have tough days.”

  Setting Realistic Expectations and Goals

Understanding that it’s okay to not be perfect and setting achievable goals can help reduce pressure. Breaking tasks into smaller, manageable steps can make them feel less overwhelming.

Positive Affirmations and Self-Compassion

Using positive affirmations and being kind to oneself can improve self-esteem and reduce anxiety. Reminding oneself of strengths and accomplishments can provide a confidence boost when needed most.

 Seeking Professional Help

It is important to seek help from a healthcare provider. Various mental health professionals, such as therapists, counselors and coaches can offer support. They provide a safe space to explore feelings and develop coping strategies.

Building a Support System

Having a strong support system is essential for new mums. This can include family, friends, and support groups. Communicating needs clearly to loved ones and seeking out groups (both online and in-person) where mothers share similar experiences can provide comfort and practical advice. Support systems provide emotional backing and practical help, making the challenges of motherhood more manageable.

Support groups, whether in-person or online, can be particularly beneficial. They offer a sense of community and understanding, where new mums can share their experiences and advice. Knowing that others are going through similar struggles can be very comforting.

postpartum anxiety support from partner

Partner and Family Involvement

Partners and family members play a crucial role in supporting new mothers. They can help by taking on some responsibilities, offering emotional support, and encouraging open communication. Understanding and patience from loved ones can make a significant difference in managing anxiety.

Encouraging partners to be involved in the daily care of the baby can lighten the load and strengthen family bonds. Open communication about feelings, boundaries and needs is essential to ensure everyone is on the same page and working together effectively.

Real Stories and Testimonials

Hearing from other mothers who have experienced and moved through anxiety can be very reassuring. Real stories provide practical tips and highlight that it is possible to overcome these challenges. They can offer hope and practical insights, showing new mums that they are not alone and that others have successfully navigated similar experiences. Its important to note who we surround ourselves with during this time. Surrounding yourself with stories of hope, progress, resilience and reassurance can help new mums know that this can be their reality too.

Resources and Further Reading

There are many resources available for new moms experiencing anxiety. Recommended books, articles, websites, and apps can provide additional support and information. Joining online communities can also be a helpful way to connect with others. Some recommended resources include:

Managing anxiety as a new mum is challenging, but with the right strategies and support, it is possible to navigate this period successfully. Remember that seeking help is a sign of strength, and many resources are available to support new mothers. Embracing the journey of motherhood with all its ups and downs can lead to a fulfilling and rewarding experience.

If you or someone you know is struggling with postpartum anxiety, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Share this article with others who might benefit, and continue the conversation about the importance of mental health support for new mothers. Encouraging open dialogue and seeking support can make a significant difference in the well-being of new moms everywhere.

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