New Parent Anxiety

Before I start, this is not an advice post or a before and after scenario. My comments don’t come from a medical and factual background. This is just me (a new mum), talking through what has helped my anxiety in the hope it will help someone else. 

Anxiety. It’s bloody awful. I have suffered with anxiety for many years, but since becoming a parent I feel it has got much worse. An element of anxiety is normal for a new parent. We worry if we’re doing the right thing and constantly strive for what’s best for our little one. However, one sleep deprived day, perpetuated by copious amounts of caffeine, I found my anxiety got quite out of hand. This has become a frequent pattern in my life of late. 

I find myself drifting into an irrational state of mind, visualising the unlikely and worst care scenario of any situation. Before I know it, my mind has raced down an dark pessimistic path which gets harder and harder to crawl back from.

  • ‘What if my baby isn’t eating enough and she’ll never grow?’
  •  ‘Am I doing enough for her development. What if she won’t learn anything?’
  • ‘Does she hate me?’ 
  •  ‘What if I didn’t sterilize that bottle well enough and she gets seriously ill?’ 
  • ‘Is that rash on her stomach something deadly? Could it be meningitis’

I think anxiety is something that may affect more mums, due to the hormonal change that happens after birth. As if we haven’t been through enough already?! I know this to be true in my case. Since giving birth, the lovely post partum hormonal wave has certainly been a trigger.

…The list goes on. Even writing this now I see the irrationality of my thoughts. At the time however, this is much harder to do.

There’s a misconceived view that anxiety is just bad worry. But it’s so much more than that. Worry is an acute, often rational part of our fight flight response. Anxiety, for me is a chronic, unpleasant state of mind I struggle to get out of.

It’s been a real challenge for me to remain present. Whilst part of me knows it’s an irrational way of thinking, I’m still unable to reason with myself to ‘snap’ back to reality. Despite this, I have found a number of things beneficial in keeping the anxiety at bay, or at least a manageable level. 

1. Caffeine

Staying away from caffeine is particularly difficult, especially if you have a child that doesn’t sleep well. However, sometimes caffeine does more harm than good. Pre coffee, I think its going to be great and solve all my problems. When in reality, I just end up jittery with palpitations and the shakes.

Although it’s almost unforeseeable for me to cut it out completely, I’m actively trying to limit my consumption to two cups a day. This helps lower my chance of an anxious meltdown, and the inevitable dreaded boom and bust post caffeine crash.

2. Deep breathing 

Yes its a cliché. But it’s cliché that works. Sometimes when you’re tired, anxious and presented with a colicy baby, you feel hopeless. When this happens to me, I take a step back (providing baby is safe on her play mat /rocker), close my eyes and BREATHE. The strong flow of air into my lungs, paired with the temporary time out helps ground myself. I have an app on my phone which has helped too. ‘How hard can breathing really be?’ I hear you say. Actually, breathing properly to lower stress is an art – I’m yet to master. However, that won’t stop me trying.

3. Talking

Anxiety is a great devil that feeds off solitude. When I’m more isolated, my anxious thoughts flourish. The hardest thing to do at this time is talk, but its also the most important thing. Speaking about my anxiety and insecurity often helps me to realise how irrational and unlikely they are to happen.

I often worry that talking about my anxious thoughts make me seem ‘crazy’ or ‘weird’.  In reality, I’ve surprised myself with how willing loved ones are to listen and support me.

What I’m trying to say, is that even when you feel most alone and hopeless, the chances are, there’s almost always someone with an ear that wants to listen. In my case, it’s my lovely partner. 

4. Seeking help

This arguably is the most important one. Severe anxiety is debilitating, and can really affect one’s life. Thankfully my anxiety at present hasn’t reached that height. If it did, I know from my past experience that help would be needed. Going to the GP can seem so daunting, but it’s important. You wouldn’t ignore a chest infection or a wound, so why ignore your mental health? Especially now more so than ever, as there’s a tiny person relying on you to be happy and healthy too. 

Be kind to yourself! 

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