Regular readers of my blog may have noticed my absence over the last few months, I’ve been busy being procreative and bringing twin boys into the world. They’re only 9 weeks old and they’re already my entire life… but being a new Mum can be tough when you suffer with anxiety. There is a whole heap of new things you feel anxious over, that you never had to think of before and being responsible for this new life (or in my case, two) can put an incredible strain on your mental health.
As an anxious person by nature and someone who has suffered miscarriage in the past, it’s safe to say that I was dealing with a lot of anxiety during my pregnancy. They were high risk twins and I needed to be monitored often with scans every two weeks. There were so many thoughts going through my head, that I worked myself into a state between every scan. “Will there still be a heartbeat?” was the thought that most consumed me every time I entered the hospital.
I thought my anxiety would subside once the twins were born, that the worries I had were just about getting them here and holding them in my arms would make it all go away. I was wrong. Apparently anxiety comes with the territory. You now have these (super cute) babies whom you’re entirely responsible for and despite reading every book and researching every scenario or baby product, you still have no fucking idea what the hell you’re doing.
The first few nights back from the hospital were the hardest on my anxiety, which is really understandable because there are no midwives around anymore to help and tell you if you’re doing things right. I cried a lot. I was SO nervous.
That is all totally normal for any new parent!
The part that becomes slightly more concerning is when you start constantly terrified something bad is going to happen. It makes it extremely difficult to enjoy the time you have with your babies because you’re so scared that something will go wrong.
Luckily my postnatal anxiety is getting better and I’m trying very hard not to let my social anxiety creep back in too, as I’ve only been out of the house a handful of times since having a c-section and the fact that getting twins fed, dressed and ready to go out is a mission and a half!
Here’s a few things I have done to help with my pregnancy and postnatal anxiety:
Realising which feelings are normal
Pregnancy and having babies are very big changes and hormones are in full swing, so it’s good to be able to recognise which feelings are completely normal at this stage. Some anxiety is always normal and a good thing to have, as without it we wouldn’t be human but if you’re starting to feel like it’s getting too overwhelming or that it’s making you feel ill, or that you’re still feeling super anxious months after having your baby then it’s time to consider doing something about it.
Talk to someone
Whether it’s a doctor, a health visitor, midwife or a support group… talk about how you feel! Health professionals are there to help you and have a wealth of advice to give! I found that speaking to other people going through the same thing as me extremely helpful too, so I joined lots of pregnancy and baby groups and sought advice and comfort in their support. Not only did I learn that I wasn’t alone in feeling anxious all the time but I started to feel less anxious, simply because I was learning more about pregnancies and parenting from real life humans rather than books and articles.
Make some time for you
Anxiety is always heightened when you’re tired and we all know having a new baby and pregnancy will result in tiredness. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, even if it’s just so that you can go have a nap for an hour. Having some sleep and feeling refreshed can really help your anxiety levels. If you’re lucky enough to get a bit more time to yourself, make sure you carve some of it out for doing things that make you feel like you again… instead of just using the time to catch up on washing!
Manage the negative thinking
Some things that help me when my thoughts are spinning are…
Distractions: When I start getting bad thoughts, I try to deter them right away so that they don’t spiral by thinking of something else or turning my attention elsewhere.
Alternative thinking: Replacing the negative thought with a better one, that has a more positive outcome.
Breathing: Breathing slow breaths and counting them usually helps me to stop the physical symptoms of my anxiety before panic sets in.
Get some help
If your postnatal anxiety is getting severe and it’s stopping you from enjoying your baby or you’re pregnancy makes you so anxious that you can’t stop thinking about it, then perhaps a trip to the GP may be in order. There are some great therapies and support groups that can help you.