5 Life Changing Ways to Overcome Postpartum Anxiety

Last Updated: June 13, 2024
Liesel Teen, RN-BSN

By Liesel Teen

BSN, RN, Practicing Labor and Delivery Nurse

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This was a guest post by Megan from Megan’s Life with Littles! You can follow her story on Instagram!

Are you feeling like you may be too overcome with emotions after having your little one?

Postpartum anxiety is real and it is no joke. 

Any mommy knows that aside from having a baby, our hormones are all over the place! So, let’s add the hormonal unbalances of making a child inside our body!

Many people assume that postpartum depression and anxiety is due to the scary thoughts of learning how to be a mom. Speaking from experience…that doesn’t always have anything to do with it!

It’s a major misconception about postpartum anxiety! They think, oh, she is struggling because she is a new mom. Or, she just went from being a mom of 1 to a mom of 2. She’ll be ok.

That couldn’t be farther from the truth for some people.

Postpartum depression receives a lot of attention (which is good!) But, well, what about postpartum anxiety? *Insert waving arm*.

Moms suffer from this just as much as depression, and we have no idea how to overcome it or how to deal with it because nobody talks about it.

Follow @mommy.labornurse on Instagram to join our community of over 640k for education, tips, and solidarity on all things pregnancy, birth, and postpartum!

What is postpartum anxiety?

Pretty much it’s the “other baby blues”.

It’s an overwhelming amount of mental noise. A noise that is constantly in our heads and creates congestion in our brains.

Negative thoughts

It’s a ton of negative thoughts in our mind that just repeat, over and over and over again. It’s on a loop.  We recognize that these are irrational thoughts, but we have no clue how to quiet that noise down.

Having some time to yourself to decompress will help suppress some of those negative thoughts. It’s important to have me time.

I know, how do you do that when you are a busy mom? There are definitely ways to carve out me time so that you can practice more self-care!

Irrational fears

Then, the irrational thoughts lead to us to irrational fears. Those fears then lead us to start altering our day because we don’t know when we are going to start feeling the physical effects of the anxiety monster.

Postpartum anxiety doesn’t necessarily need to happen right when you have a baby.

Not just right after baby is born

My symptoms didn’t come out until 11 months post-birth.

You could still suffer from this even if you think your baby is too old.  That is a misconception.

Making a baby is so hard on our body, and things happen to us!

Physical effects of postpartum anxiety?

This leads me to share my own personal journey through PPA.

At any point and time, I would start to feel dizzy, nauseous, shaky, sweaty and then I would get a foggy mind.

Panic attacks

It’s like I wasn’t present in the moment. The world around me was blurry and out of focus. My ears would plug up and the noise around me was muffled.  Then, IT happens…the terrible awful full blown panic attacks.

All I have to say about that is ugh. Parents.com explains how you want to put a label on what this is and you can’t. 

There isn’t always an escalation or onset of these physical symptoms. It can happen at the snap of a finger. That is where the dread and avoidance of situations come in to play.

You never know when you go to a crowded place with the kiddos, if you are going to have one of these episodes. Therefore, you make excuses why you can’t go.

Avoidance and dread

Aside from panic attacks, when avoidance and dread are the louder voices in your head, then you know you need to seek help.

When I started dreading certain parts of my day such as driving or going into crowded places, I would avoid it. That’s when I knew my PPA was pretty bad.

I knew I had a problem bigger than me, and I needed to troubleshoot this. I would beg my family for us to leave somewhere and go home because I was having an anxiety episode and I wanted to leave.

It ruins everyone else’s time, and then I felt extreme guilt.

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What should you do if you think you have postpartum anxiety?

If any of this sounds all too familiar to you, make an appointment with your Primary Care Physician.

I had no clue what I was going through when this all reared its head in my life.

I thought it was my thyroid or a whole bunch of other stuff! When I talked to my PCP about this, she gave me a medicine that I could take if I felt any of the anxiety symptoms.

The problem with that was, it put me to sleep immediately. So, there was no way that I could take this medicine when I had my child, or when I needed to drive etc.

So I went back to the PCP and I asked for something else.  She started me on a low dose of Lexapro.  She warned me of all the side effects that could happen.

Then she referred me to a Licensed Professional Counselor. She said medicine would only help so much, and that a counselor would give me the right tools in my toolbox to get through this ugly dark time.

Related Reading: 9 Strange Postpartum Symptoms You Might Experience

Is postpartum anxiety treatable?

Oh my goodness, yes! Take a deep breath right now and relax because…THIS IS TREATABLE.

Now, I will tell you that at first, my medication worked great and took the edge off. Then, my anxiety continued, so I scheduled an appointment with the LPC.

I had 10 sessions total, but for the first 3…I didn’t feel like anything was changing. Then I almost quit going. Then, I continued, and breakthroughs started to happen.

At my first session, my counselor said she had just discharged a patient for anxiety and panic attacks, and that they had 9 sessions.

I remember thinking, “oh wow I hope that can be me someday”.

I didn’t have much hope that I would be able to conquer this postpartum anxiety monster.

There is hope!!! This is completely 100% treatable. No matter how bad you think you feel…this too shall pass. 

Ahhh, the words mothers from all over the world live by. But it is so very true. Do not spend time dealing with this when you do not have to. You CAN be freed of this.

What are the next steps?

Seek the professional help that you need and start your journey to overcome this!

Time is an issue for a lot of us.  My sessions were an hour long, so I wasn’t there all day.

This is 1 million percent worth your time. You are worth feeling better, mama. Contact your PCP, and they will hold your hand from there and guide you the right way.

5 Ways to overcome postpartum anxiety

1. Enlist the Help of Your Nose

You will never understand the power of your pretty little nose until you need it to get you through a horrible anxious moment. Your nose will save you in these situations!

Trust me on this.  I carry a “portable container” in my purse.

It’s a cotton ball and an essential oil in a baggie. If I think I am going to feel out of sorts, I just smell it really quick!  Your nose will immediately send happy signals through your body, and it will help take you out of the uncomfortable anxious moment

2. Get Some Headspace

Headspace is an amazing meditation app.  It will remind you when its time to meditate, and it will time you as well.  Meditation does not mean you need to set aside chunks of time in your busy mom life to sit in a quiet room.

Although that would be lovely wouldn’t it?

You just need a few minutes a day to clear your mind.  This will help quiet all that noise in our mind.  When your mind will quiet down, your anxiety will too.

3. Desensitize Yourself

Force yourself to do whatever it is that is making you the most anxious.  The more you expose yourself to the culprit, the less your mind will have all that negative noise.

Sometimes for me it was going to restaurants. So I would force myself to go, and then after awhile, it wasn’t so uncomfortable anymore

4. Exercise

I know I know. How in the world are we supposed to make ourselves exercise when we are battling postpartum anxiety and feel less than par?

That’s simple.  Just do it.

You will feel so much better if you just get 10 minutes of something that gets your heart rate up a little bit!

A brisk walk, jumping jacks, yoga on youtube etc.  Just do something! A lot of my PPA problems started exactly when I stopped exercising.  It is important to get out there and have hobbies and clear your mind.

5. Talk to a loved one

Sometimes just venting to someone we trust, is a way to get PPA to calm down. 

It’s almost like PPA can hear us talking about them and then it decides to slink off into the wilderness.  A loved one doesn’t need to comment or offer advice. 

Sometimes venting is all you need!

You can 100% overcome your post partum anxiety! Work hard at it. Make it a priority.  You are a beautiful mama and you deserve the best life!

Related Reading: Understanding Postpartum Depression and Tips That Actually Work

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Liesel Teen, RN-BSN

Liesel Teen

BSN, RN, Practicing Labor and Delivery Nurse

As a labor and delivery nurse, I’ve spent countless hours with women who felt anxious — even fearful — about giving birth. I want you to know it doesn’t have to be that way for you!

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