Let’s be honest: becoming a new mom is scary. Motherhood is a beautiful experience unlike any other, but it is also one that brings about feelings of stress, worry and exhaustion. The good news is that you are not alone, and you are capable of confronting and overcoming your feelings of anxiety.
Don’t compare your experience as a mother to those of others
For better or worse, there is no handbook on how to be the perfect mother. As long as you are following health and safety guidance for things like car seats and safe sleep, there is no one right way of doing things when it comes to parenting. It can be difficult to refrain from comparing your choices and decisions – from whether your baby uses a pacifier to whether you subscribe to the cry-it-out method – but this comparison has the potential, while unwarranted, to make you feel inadequate.
If breastfeeding didn’t work out for you and your baby, but your best friend swears by it, that’s perfectly fine; the most important thing is that both babies are healthy and fed. If you are opting to place your toddler in daycare so you can return to work, trust that this is the best decision for your family even if your mom was a stay-at-home-mom. Of course, it’s important to ask for help when you need it, but questioning your choices as a mother based on someone else’s experience will only lead to anxiety about whether you are doing the right thing.
Take time for yourself
You didn’t stop having needs once you became a mom. Ensuring that you are well-fed, rested, and well cared for is just as important for you as it is for your baby. It’s possible — and critically important — to maintain your independence and tend to your needs as a new mom because it will help clear your head and burn off excess anxiety.
Worry for our children is only exacerbated when we aren’t near them or can’t see what they are doing, but it’s not healthy for you or your baby to spend all of your time together. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel after having lunch with a friend, watching a couple of episodes of your favorite show, practicing yoga for an hour or even going grocery shopping by yourself. Plus, this allows for extra bonding time between your baby and their other parent, grandparents or trusted friend who offered to babysit.
Know that you are enough
If you are worried about whether or not you are doing right by your child, chances are, you are. That you care so deeply about how you are doing as a mom is a testament to the love and concern you have for your child. When you’re feeling anxious about whether or not you’re a good mom, think about everything you did for your baby that day. You fed them multiple times, often before you had the chance to eat. You burped them so they wouldn’t feel uncomfortable. You skipped your own nap so you could rock your baby to sleep.
You changed their diaper, even if it was messy. You soothed them when they cried. You played with them and read to them to keep them stimulated. You wrapped them in a blanket when they were cold and took their tiny socks off when they were warm. You triple-checked that their car seat was latched correctly. Some of these sound like basic responsibilities, but they are parts of a whole that make up a loving parent, and they are also especially difficult when feelings of anxiety and exhaustion are overwhelming.
Talk it out with someone
Approximately 10 percent of postpartum women develop anxiety once they become a new mom—and this only includes women who have been diagnosed. This sobering figure speaks to the sheer volume of women who experience anxiety after their baby is born, yet it is not very widely discussed in our society’s discourse on the relationship between pregnancy, motherhood and mental health.
Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with postpartum anxiety, your feelings of anxiety as a new mom are completely valid and deserving of being heard. Speak with your partner or another close adult you can confide in about your feelings, and let them know if you need any help. Bottling up feelings of anxiety will only worsen the issue, and something as simple as expressing what exactly you are anxious about will lighten your mental load.
Consider seeing a therapist
A licensed counselor or therapist, particularly one who specializes in anxiety or postpartum anxiety, can be another incredible resource for new moms experiencing anxiety. Different therapeutic techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy and psychotherapy can all be effective treatment options, provided in a safe and neutral space dedicated to your care.
Pyramid Online Counseling is experienced at providing compassionate treatment for new moms, particularly those experiencing postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety or those who just need a third party to talk with. Online counseling, or teletherapy, is a great option for busy moms who want to address and overcome their anxiety. Get help today by reaching out at 833-525-3077.