Postpartum Depression gets a lot of attention these days (which is great! Awareness is important), but did you know that Postpartum Anxiety can be just as disruptive? “Great,” I hear you say. “Another thing to worry about.” But pregnancy is a time of joy. Or at least it should be. It can be hard to really feel that joy if you are worried about what’s coming. But the best offense is a great defense! Ease your mind—and help make sure that you are not caught off-guard—with four easy steps:
Step 1—Educate Yourself: Learn about the signs and symptoms of postpartum anxiety, and how it is
similar to (and different from) postpartum depression. Talk to your doctor, your midwife, your doula, and your mom friends. Then take matters into your own hands by seeking out information from multiple, reputable sources, in print or online. Do not just consume endless horror stories—there is nothing productive in that. Look instead for sources that focus on prevention and treatment.
Step 2—Make A Plan: Discuss your concerns with those around you. Get your partner, your care
providers, and any friends or family that will be helping you in the early weeks and months on board.
Make sure they know what to look for and have a plan for checking in on your mental wellbeing after
delivery. You need the people who know you well on the lookout, just in case you yourself are not in a
state to identify what is going on. And if things get bad, they may need to push you a bit to get help.
Step 3—Ask For Help: Compile a list of potential mental health treatment providers in your area, and
know what your insurance does or does not cover. That way, if you need professional intervention, you
can get the help you need faster, and you won’t need to scramble to find this information while under the influence of postpartum anxiety or depression, while learning how to care for your new arrival to boot. Think of it as your Worst-Case-Scenario toolkit.
Step 4—Relax: When it comes to Postpartum Anxiety (or depression, or any number of physical or
mental difficulties) the best prevention is to be as healthy as possible. So, take care of yourself the way you would anyway. Being kind to yourself, saying no to stress, eating a healthy diet, staying hydrated, getting quality sleep, making sure that you have at least some (doctor approved) movement in your days
—all of these things will help you to be as physically and mentally healthy as possible.
In other words, now that you are prepared for the worst, take the focus off of possible future problems and put your focus on meeting your needs in the here and now. If you need any help with these things,
consider picking up a copy of Pure Nurture: A Holistic Guide to a Healthy Baby, your guide to
self-care during pregnancy.
If you are already struggling with postpartum anxiety, skip straight to steps 3 and 4. Getting help
as soon as possible will help you get back on track faster. There is a way out, and there is no
shame in needing a little help to find it.