Many people have heard of postpartum depression, and it’s understandable that moms suffer from such a sentiment. In the weeks after they give birth, moms’ moods can swing up and down as their hormones adjust to a body after baby. PPD has gotten plenty of press in recent years, and that’s a good thing for moms who feel down in the weeks after giving birth. They know they can seek help, and so, too, should mothers who experience postpartum anxiety symptoms.
It’s normal for parents to worry about their newborn baby’s health and well-being, especially if they’ve never parented a little one before. Those with postpartum anxiety won’t be able to quiet those negative thoughts, though. Instead, moms will feel as if they’re in a near-constant state of fear that something bad will happen. Along with their racing thoughts, postpartum anxiety sufferers have feelings of dread, and they may suffer from sleep disruption — yes, even when trying to catch every wink possible while the newborn sleeps.
The physical symptoms of postpartum anxiety more or less align with the typical signs of anxiety, too. If a new mom shakes, feels fatigued, has heart palpitations, sweats or hyperventilates, it may be due to post-baby stress. These sensations don’t just feel uncomfortable — postpartum anxiety can make it tough for a mom to enjoy the start of her child’s life.
If you’re seeing postpartum anxiety signs in yourself or in someone you love, you have options. Plenty of remedies exist to ease the tension, including holistic ones. Here are four ways to treat your postpartum anxiety in an all-natural way:
1. Get Moving
Your body has recently been through labor, so you’ll want to go easy on yourself. However, a gentle exercise regimen might be just the ticket to solving your postpartum anxiety. Secure your little one in a stroller and start walking — the fresh air, sunshine and exercise can help you to fizzle the anxiety you feel. As your body returns to normal, you might want to try a more regimented workout routine to keep anxious thoughts at bay. In one study, women of childbearing age found that their symptoms decreased with exercise, especially resistance training.
2. Reveal Your Feelings
You can’t keep your anxiety to yourself, especially as a new mom who might need help. So, reach out to your partner, a parent or a trusted friend. Perhaps you know someone who has just had a baby, too — they’re probably experiencing similar feelings, and they might have discovered ways to remedy them, too. On top of that, new moms can also join postpartum support groups, through which you can discuss lingering fears. Sometimes, hearing that other mothers feel the same way can help you feel less stressed out.
Of course, you can have a more private conversation — and one with a trained professional, who can give you actionable tips to reduce your anxiety. Short-term cognitive behavioral therapy is designed to re-wire the way you think and teach new behaviors to improve an ongoing issue like anxiety. The right coping mechanisms can help you overcome your anxiety, rather than succumb to it. With CBT in particular, you will face the generalized fears that have sparked your anxiety. Then, you’ll become part of the problem-solving process — you and your therapist will come up with ways that you can combat your negative thoughts. You’ll feel calmer and more confident at the end of your sessions, which is how every mom should feel in her new role.
Also read: Child naps
3. Take Vitamins
In a typical case of anxiety, a doctor might prescribe a medication meant to soothe the disorder’s symptoms. However, new moms — namely, those who breastfeed — might not want to start a new rota of prescriptions that could affect their child. Instead, you might try vitamins to help reduce the strain and stress you feel.
Magnesium, for one, has long been used as an all-natural anxiety treatment. One 2017 study found that the mineral reduced anxiety in a slew of different types of patients, including postpartum mothers. The same report hypothesized that magnesium helps to dull the tension because it boosts brain function. Namely, it can help regulate the brain’s neurotransmitters, facilitating as the organ sends messages throughout the body. Other studies have found that magnesium may boost brain functions specifically deployed to downplay stress and anxiety.
There are other vitamin and mineral options to assuage postpartum anxiety symptoms, too. Vitamin D, folic acid and calcium have all been linked to lowered postpartum anxiety, too. Be sure to speak with your doctor before starting any supplement, but consider all of the above in your quest to go holistically anxiety-free.
4. Try Mindfulness
Finally, postpartum anxiety sends countless thoughts flying through your head. Brushing up on your mindfulness skills wouldn’t be a bad idea — in fact, it’s a great holistic remedy for the stress you’re currently feeling.
At its most basic, mindfulness gives you the tools to be present in the present. A mindfulness practitioner learns how to focus on what’s happening — it’s a grounding method that softens a person’s reactions to hiccups along the way. We all inherently have mindfulness, but it’s easy to lose sight of it when, say, you give birth and have a newborn baby. Re-accessing this calmer side of your mind can help you now and throughout the parenting process.
Most people hone their mindfulness practice through meditation. As you sit quietly, you’ll notice thoughts popping up in your head. You will have to actively push them from your mind and focus on the present. What can you hear? What can you smell? These thoughts bring you back to the present and train you not to get caught up in your thoughts.
Luckily, plenty of apps and websites exist that will help you meditate. You only need to dedicate a few minutes every day to your practice, and that short period will help you refocus on what’s happening in the current moment — and how sweet it is.
Treat Yourself Well
These are just four examples of how you can restore your sense of calm in a chaotic time. No matter which method you choose, follow through and find what works for you. Don’t feel guilty or ashamed that you’re suffering from postpartum anxiety, either. Instead, be proud of the fact that you’re seeking help — it’s not only best for your health but for your baby’s, too.