My Experience: Postpartum Anxiety
Updated: May 6, 2021
So I thought I would elaborate more on what it was like for me to go through postpartum anxiety after having my first child. When I was going through this, I didn’t really realize just how bad it truly was. I also could not find any information anywhere! All of my searching led me to postpartum depression, not anxiety. I didn’t feel depressed, I felt panic. Pure panic and terror CONSTANTLY. So here is my story:
What is Postpartum Anxiety?
Let me start by explaining what postpartum anxiety is. Postpartum anxiety occurs similar to how postpartum depression occurs. After you give birth your body goes through a MASSIVE shift of hormones. This basically puts you at increased risk of experiencing higher stress levels. For me postpartum anxiety presented itself with multiple signs.
(The face of postpartum anxiety- I look totally normal right??? Well, I wasn't)
My signs of Postpartum Anxiety
Nervous energy: When I say nervous energy, I mean just that. I could not slow down, and my brain was spitting off things like rapid fire. I had all these ideas racing through my head constantly! I knew I needed to rest and recover after the horrendous delivery experience I had (i’ll go into that in another post), but I just could not relax AT ALL. I was awake at all hours staring at my baby and freaking out. Just to be clear, I am fully aware that I am a naturally hyper and overwhelming person, but this shit was to the extreme. My husband kept reminding me to rest and getting upset with me for going too far but I was not listening to him. I just could not shut myself off and it was absolutely horrible!
Palpitations: My heart was literally beating out of my chest constantly and I was so hyper aware of this. Granted this could have happened to me because I gave birth to a baby and had preeclampsia but honestly who knows…..
Shortness of breath: Okay so you know that feeling when you can't take a deep breath in or you feel like you need to force a yawn? Well for me, that was a sign of anxiety. I was constantly thinking that I couldn’t breathe when I actually could. It was so frustrating because then I would panic and think I was dying.
Is my baby breathing?: I thought at the time that it was totally normal to check if your child was breathing constantly. Granted most moms experience this, but I experienced it to the extreme. I didn’t get any sleep because of this. At one point I was up straight for an entire 24 hours. The worst part was I felt exhausted, but I could not sleep.
Not connecting with my baby: I constantly felt like I wasn’t good enough for my baby or that I was failing. Instead of soaking in snuggles, I was trying to correct everything I was doing and do it better. Looking back on this after not experiencing this with my second child, I realized that I missed so much because I was so anxious and frustrated all the time.
That Bitch from The Ring: Okay so y’all remember the movie The Ring right? If not, why don't you go ahead and google the creepy girl, because I straight up saw her touching my baby in the middle of the night. I FREAKED out. My entire body was shaking and I was crying aggressively. I cried so hard that I made myself puke. It was absolutely horrifying. This was my first experience with a full blown panic attack before. Anxiety is no joke and I am SO sorry to everyone who has to go through that on a regular basis. I am pretty sure I also scared the freaking shit out of my husband because he then tried to tell me something was wrong. My husband hinted at the fact he thought I had some form of postpartum depression. He clearly paid attention during the new parent classes. He encouraged me to contact my doctor to talk about what I was going through. So once again kudos to my husband for being amazing.
After crying to my doctor about what I was going through, she was incredibly helpful. I was breastfeeding and decided that I would start Buspirone because it was okay to breastfeed on according to my doctor. Knowing that this medication wouldn’t kick in for several weeks, I had to rely on recognizing the signs of my anxiety and using natural methods to “calm myself down,” at least until the meds kicked in. Natural methods simply did not work for me. I am too high strung to get fully relaxed for meditation or deep breathing so these were a no go for me. I literally wanted to punch my husband every time he said, “just breathe.” The only natural method that worked for me was a hot shower. There is something about hot water pouring onto my naked body that relaxes me (who knew?). I literally took about five showers per day because that worked. It also eased the discomfort of the swelling and 4th degree tear that I had after childbirth so that was a plus. Anyways, about a month after being on meds, I started feeling a bit better, but it wasn’t until about four months postpartum that I felt “myself” again. I was nervous to come off of the buspirone, but I did not want to be on this medication long term. I didn’t have any short term side effects while taking Buspirone (thank god, could you imagine?!!). I stopped taking the medication at about 6 months postpartum with my doctors okay. I got lucky because realistically I had no changes after stopping this medication either. I was finally back to my normal (yet still high strung and weird) self. I was finally bonding with my baby and loving life.
YOU CAN GET THROUGH THIS!
(Me finishing nursing school with postpartum anxiety)
For those experiencing postpartum anxiety, tell your doctor. You can get through it! I managed to finish nursing school, take my NCLEX examination, and make up for the bonding that I missed with my daughter, all while going through postpartum anxiety. Did I score poorly on a few tests? Yes I did. Did I cry alot? Absolutely. Did I keep moving forward? Yes I did. I blame all of my success at concurring postpartum anxiety on seeking treatment from my doctor. I hope that by sharing this story, I can help provide insight on what it is like to go through postpartum anxiety.
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