Oh, Baby! - Perinatal Anxiety and How to Recognize When to Get Help
Having a baby is a very exciting time. You’re bringing a new life into this world and you’re expanding your family. While this is a tremendously exciting time, your life is changing and you may experience an increase in worry and anxiety as you start to plan for your new arrival. In fact, according to the Canadian Psychological Association, nearly 20 per cent of pregnant and new moms experience anxiety and related disorders, which are among the most common mental health conditions in women.
Although it’s completely normal to worry after baby is born, perinatal anxiety can develop in women when they are pregnant and up to one year following the birth of the baby. The difference between normal worry and perinatal anxiety is the latter involves changes to one’s thoughts, feeling, body sensations, and actions. Once the baby is born, you may start having a feeling that something bad is going to happen, or you may start to worry excessively about things that could impact your child, such as germs. Perinatal anxiety can also lead to reduced quality of sleep, causing you to be irritable and depressed, as well as leading to increased tension in close relationships.
So what can you do if you feel that you or your loved one is experiencing perinatal anxiety? The first step is to talk with a healthcare provider about how you’re feeling. One effective psychological treatment that can help is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), which involves learning new ways of thinking and behaving. A registered psychologist can help you learn and practice skills that will help with managing and treating anxiety. These skills include relaxation and mindfulness, self-care (eating healthy, exercising, getting lots of rest, etc.), flexible thinking (learning to recognize negative thoughts), and other methods. The most important thing is to seek help early rather than waiting for symptoms to improve on their own. Often, new moms who experience perinatal anxiety are scared to get help out of fear that will be looked down upon or judged negatively. The truth is, bringing a child into the world is a daunting process for new parents and brings with it huge changes to our daily routine. Reaching out for help is a great way to ensure that you are taking care of yourself, which will help you to care for your little one.
Untreated perinatal anxiety can have adverse consequences for new mothers and their families. If you or someone you know is experiencing signs of perinatal anxiety, we invite you to contact our office. Having a baby is a milestone moment for a mother and their families, and we want to help you have less worry and more happiness during this time in your life.