Becoming a new mom is a truly transformative experience. It comes with so much good, but it can also be a struggle, especially the newborn stage. Personally, one of the things I struggled with when I first brought my little ones home was anxiety. I had anxiety already, but having my sons just seemed to amplify it. I was afraid of everything from SIDS to falling down the stairs while holding them. It was insane. So, if you’re struggling with postpartum anxiety as a new mom, I get it. The trick is to remember you’re not alone and that there are strategies to help you manage your anxiety. Here are some that worked for me.
Ask for help
Asking for help with your new mom anxiety can look different depending on your level of anxiety and your support system. You might be able to just talk things through with a supportive partner who helps keep you calm and work through your fears. However, if your anxiety level is too high, you might need more help than that. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a therapist or even a psychiatrist. A therapist can also help you work through your fears and give you personalized, effective strategies. Also, anxiety meds can be super helpful; if you need them, you should have them.
If your new mom anxiety is having an out-of-control moment, the most important thing to do is get grounded. This means bringing yourself back to reality and grounding yourself in the physical world. There are so many ways to do this, and what works for me might not work for you. So, let’s go through a few ways you can ground yourself.
You can identify something with each of your senses. What can you smell, see, touch, hear, etc. Literally, ground yourself in the world around you. I used to listen to my heartbeat as a way of calming myself down. I’ve also counted something in books, like trying to name all the characters in a series. You can run your hands through water at the sink and really focus on the feeling of the running water. There are sooo many ideas out there. One of them is going to work for you.
Try to work through the scenarios
While there isn’t much of a solution to being afraid of a car accident or falling down the stairs, there are some fears that can be literally worked through. Personally, I find that if I work through every possible scenario (rational or irrational), I can usually calm down after. So, when I had money anxiety after our second son was born, I went through my entire cash flow and experimented with our budget. I went through every scenario and found that we would be okay. Tight and maybe even broke, but okay. Working through the possibilities helped calm me down in the end, even though it made me temporarily crazy. This is how I dealt with anxiety as a new mom and beyond.
Regulate your breathing
Standard advice says that you should take deep breaths to stay calm, but if you’re having real anxiety, deep breaths will not help you. They will make things worse. Hear me out!
When we take a deep breath, we adjust our natural breathing rhythm. It tells our body that something is off. We have to take deep breaths. Something is wrong. But when we regulate our breathing and take it back to a normal level, we tell our body that everything is okay. Everything is normal. We can relax. So rather than taking a deep breath, you want to try and breathe as normally as possible.
Do your research (but don’t go down a rabbit hole)
If you’re really having anxiety about something specific, you can Google it. But don’t go down the rabbit hole and research everything under the sun. Otherwise, you might overwhelm yourself with too much information. It’s also worth noting that depending on what it is, you’re probably better off asking their pediatrician. Your doctor is there to answer questions, and if you’re concerned, don’t feel bad about calling. Ditto goes for your doctor if you’re concerned about your postpartum health.
Dealing with anxiety as a new mom is no joke. Anxiety is a real and serious thing that can make your life so much harder. It’s important to reach out for help when we need it, especially if everything feels overwhelming. I mean, you just had a baby. Things are going to feel overwhelming, but if it feels too overwhelming, reach out to a doctor.
Erin Lafond is a writer, website creator, and mom. She survived new motherhood by Googling things a lot, calling her mother, and embracing trial and error. Now, she shares her knowledge with all new moms. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and son (soon to be two sons!).