anxietyAntenatal or Postnatal Anxiety

Being pregnant or having a new baby at home is an emotional time, even under the best circumstances. Whether it’s a woman’s first venture into motherhood or her fifth, anxiety is a common emotion during this time. Anxiety is a natural response to protect one’s baby, and often that’s expressed with hyper-alertness and hyper-vigilance. However, for some women, anxiety can start to build gradually and interfere with her ability to enjoy and take proper care of herself and in the case of new mums her baby.

Approximately 6% of pregnant women and 10% of postpartum women develop anxiety. Sometimes they experience anxiety alone, and sometimes they experience it in addition to depression.  Maternal Anxiety can also lead to depression as feeling anxious and upset all the time may cause you to become depressed.

Antenatal or Postnatal Anxiety can sometimes be undiagnosed by women, other people and health professionals because of the belief that all pregnant or new mums are always extremely anxious.  It can also be misdiagnosed as Postnatal Depression as anxiety used to be seen as part of postnatal depression and not as a separate disorder and is a less commonly known as postnatal depression is.  Experts are also starting to recognise that Postnatal Anxiety is more common than Postnatal Depression and around 10% of women will suffer from this illnessdisorder.

Similar to Postnatal Depression it may start off as moderate anxiety, gets worse or continues for more than two weeks or it is starting to affect your life. You can have this type of illness while pregnant or at any time in the first year after giving birth.  It is advisable for any woman experiencing extreme anxiety especially if your life is affected to seek professional help.

It can be very confusing for new parents to figure out if what they are feeling is normal because of the major changes to their sleep and lives or is it more serious, if you are anyway concerned about how you are feeling or how a loved one is feeling please contact Nurture, we are here to help.  Anxiety disorders are an illness and are treatable, ignoring it will not help you or make it go away so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Ante or Postnatal Anxiety is a multi factorial condition with biological, psychological and social factors all playing some part. A different combination of factors is probably responsible for each woman’s unique experience of Ante or Postnatal Anxiety.

It is important to know the risk factors for Ante or Postnatal Anxiety. Research shows that all of the things listed below can put you at a higher risk for developing this illness. If you have any of these factors, you should discuss them with your healthcare provider like your doctor so that you can learn to recognise symptoms and plan ahead for care should you need it.

  • Previous emotional traumas
  • A personal or family history of depression, anxiety, or postnatal depression or anxiety
  • New mums can suffer from anxiety if they have suffered from it during pregnancy
  • Inadequate support in caring for the baby
  • Complications in pregnancy or birth
  • A major recent life event: loss, house move, job loss
  • Mothers of multiples
  • Mothers whose infants are in or have been in Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU)
  • Mothers who have gone through infertility treatments
  • Women who have previously lost a baby (including miscarriage, ectopic pregnancies or stillbirth)
  • Women with a thyroid imbalance

Symptoms

It is very important for women to learn to recognise the signs and symptoms of Ante or Postnatal Anxiety so that they can ask for help as early as possible.  The severity of Ante or Postnatal Anxiety depends on the number of symptoms, their intensity and the extent to which they interfere with normal functioning. Ante or Postnatal Anxiety tends to be characterized by a combination of the following symptoms. The combination and severity of symptoms will be different for every woman, resulting in many different appearances of Ante or Postnatal Anxiety.

  • Constant worrying about the baby, your parenting skills, partners parenting skills, the future, etc
  • Feeling that something bad is going to happen, feeling dread
  • Racing thoughts
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Restless and can’t sit still, can relax, feeling on edge
  • Feeling you have to be doing something all of the time
  • Changes to appetite, no appetite or comfort eating
  • Physical symptoms like dizziness, hot flashes, sweating, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing,  nausea, stomach and digestion problems, tight chest or throat andor tension headache
  • Panic Attacks
  • Irritable, moody
  • Irrational fears andor knowing these fears are irrational
  • Feeling you need to be holding or with your baby all the time
  • Feeling afraid to be alone with your baby
  • Avoiding normal things, places, people or situations that could harm your baby, ie afraid to drive in case you get in an accident.
  • Afraid to ask for help
  • Feeling like you have to be in control of every situation
  • Muscle Tension, grinding teeth, constant nail biting
  • Difficulty focusing and concentrating, memory loss
  • Thinking everything will turn out to be a catastrophe

You are not alone and it really is okay to talk about it

Ante or Postnatal Anxiety is not something to be ashamed of, it’s OK to talk about it. It should be seen as one of the many complications of pregnancy and childbirth. With early identification/diagnosis, immediate access to Ante or Postnatal Anxiety specific services and accurate information women with Ante or Postnatal Anxiety do recover. If you feel you may be suffering from Ante or Postnatal Anxiety, know that it is not your fault and you are not to blame.  We understand what you are going through and will connect you to people who can help. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms please click here to see how to contact us.

If you are feeling very down or depressed you may be suffering from Depression during Pregnancy or if you have given birth Postnatal Depression or if you have obsessional thoughts you may be suffering from Ante or Postnatal OCD. You can have symptoms from each of these illnesses as they sometimes happen together which is very common as well.  Again all these illnesses are temporary with the right treatment.

One last but extremely important thing to note:  If you are having moments where it seems like you can see or hear things no one else does, if you are feeling paranoid as if others are out to get you, if you are having thoughts or beliefs that you normally would never have, or if you are having thoughts of harming yourself or your child, children andor others it’s vital that you reach out for help immediately.  These symptoms require immediate attention as they could be signs of postpartum psychosis.  If you have these symptoms, your illness has the potential to take over and make you to do things that you wouldn’t normally do.  Postpartum psychosis is temporary and treatable with professional help, but it is an emergency and it is essential that you receive immediate help.