May 17, 2023

Anxiety and Parenthood

Jane Magnani
Jane Magnani
Anxiety and Parenthood

Whether it's your first or fourth child, navigating your way through parenthood can be challenging for any parent. You can strive for harmony by creating opportunities for you and your family to be secure, healthy, and able to grow, which can be achieved through peaceful parenting. We are here to help you along the way, and we hope that this blog will help you understand a few more things concerning parenthood anxiety.

Many women who have recently given birth will suffer from moderate mood changes. This is commonly referred to as the "baby blues", and it generally only lasts a few days. 

Anxious thoughts and fears are normal, especially in the first few weeks following the birth of your little one. For example, you may be concerned that something will happen to your baby or that you will make a mistake. These sensations, however, tend to fade as you become accustomed to caring for a newborn, usually after 2 or 3 months. 

Postnatal anxiety is distinct in that it is more severe and persistent (it does not go away). 

We have shared a couple of questions and answers that you may have about anxiety and parenthood to help put your mind at ease…

So, what exactly is anxiety?

  • Anxiety is a mild to severe feeling of unease, worry, or fear.

  • Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time, but some people struggle to manage their worries. Some parents may acquire anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), possibly as a result of a difficult birth.

In a few weeks, we will be sharing more information on traumatic births and PTSD, so stay tuned.

How common is postnatal anxiety?

Anxiety is experienced by up to one in every five women during pregnancy or in the first year following childbirth.

Some people may also believe that only the parent who gave birth is vulnerable. However, both parents might experience anxiety both during and after their partner’s pregnancy.

A new baby is a significant life transition! It can impact any parent in both positive and negative ways. So, try not to be hard on yourself if you're having trouble adjusting.


What is the distinction between postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression? 

‘Postnatal depression’ is defined as feeling persistently sad or depressed for more than two weeks. 

You may find it difficult to focus, lose interest in activities you normally enjoy, or experience emotions of shame, hopelessness, or lack of confidence in yourself.

…and postpartum anxiety?

Some anxiety symptoms may be difficult to detect since they are similar to those experienced by most new parents.

  • You may have difficulty concentrating or sleeping, for example.

  • Unable to control your anxiety, restless or worried. 

  • You might avoid particular places or do certain activities.

  • You may be unduly cautious or repeatedly seek reassurance from loved ones or healthcare professionals.

As a new parent, there can be a multitude of things you’re dealing with, like:

  • Learning how to care for your new baby; being responsible for your infant's health and well-being; a lack of sleep; a changing relationship with your partner; and financial demands are all factors to consider.

  • It can also be difficult to adjust to life as a new family if you don't have good support networks in place, such as friends or family that live nearby.


Women talking together

What should I do if I suspect I have postnatal anxiety?

Discuss your feelings with a spouse, family member, or friend

They may be able to provide you with emotional and practical support. For example, they might be able to care for the little one while you try to sleep.


Speak with other parents

This can sometimes be reassuring and help you put your thoughts into perspective. It can also help some parents realise that their feelings are more acute and that they require further support.


Talk to a health visitor or GP

You may find it hard to discuss this, but remember that they are there to help you and will not judge you. Try writing your challenges on paper; this might help you see things a little clearer. They are experts in this field and recognise that anxiety is a mental health issue.

It is not your fault, nor is it something you simply need to 'get over' or move on from.

They will concentrate on assisting you in locating the appropriate treatment and support so that you can care for yourself and your child.

Your relationship with your child

It's crucial to understand that some parents bond with their infant right away, while others take longer. Avoid putting too much strain on yourself.

What are the options for treating postnatal anxiety?

Talking therapy, self-help, medication, or a mix of these are the most common treatments for postnatal anxiety. What you are offered will be determined in part by your symptoms, their severity, and what is available locally.

If you live in England, your GP, midwife, or health visitor can recommend you to a therapist who specialises in talking therapies and applied relaxation.

How can I deal with the symptoms of postnatal anxiety?

When you're caring for a new baby, it's easy to forget about yourself, but it's critical to take care of yourself as well. Try to:

  • Accept assistance from others around you, such as friends or family.

  • Do some light activity, such as a walk in the park with a warm cup of tea, relax and sleep when you can

  • Discuss your feelings with someone you trust, such as your partner, family, or friend.


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