Mothers: we laugh together over the intense worries we have; about whether or not our baby is breathing, or if they're drinking enough, or if they're developing at the right speed – some of us will wake a softly sleeping infant to make sure they’re still alive, or spend countless hours googling symptoms and problems. We share memes and stories through social media, supporting one another through the dark days - months - of new motherhood. Worries that plague our waking moments, like what if I drop my baby when I’m walking down the stairs? What if the vibrations from the pram wheels on the pavement shake them too much? They’re being so sick / so quiet / crying so much – what if there’s something medically wrong with them, and how will I know? What will I do with myself if they die? How could I ever possibly go on living if they died?
People will tell you that this is a normal part of motherhood, and just to get on with it. Sometimes though you simply can’t. I argue that maybe you shouldn’t just get on with it.
We talk more commonly about post-natal depression; health visitors are trained to watch for the signs, and can provide extra support for Mums who need it. We learn about it in our pre-natal classes. We probably even know someone that has been through it. What we don’t hear so much about are post-natal anxiety and post-natal OCD, which can disrupt the mother-child bond in much the same way as post-natal depression.
Changes in hormones, birth trauma, disturbed sleep, and the general upheaval many people experience after the birth of their child can lead some mothers to feel significant anxiety, “including postnatal generalised anxiety disorder (which can present as a constant state of high anxiety, with worries about everything from your child’s health, feeding, and your ability to parent); postnatal obsessive compulsive disorder (which often involves experiencing distressing thought and concerns about harm coming to your baby); and postnatal health anxiety (which is a preoccupation that there may be something wrong with a baby’s health)”. From AnxietyUK - https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/a... This can all be very alarming and distressing, but if you’re going through it you don’t have to simply put up with it. Talking to a counsellor can be incredibly helpful in allowing you the space to sort through what is a genuine concern and what is your brain getting caught in fight-or-flight mode unnecessarily. Some new mums find medication in conjunction with talking therapies to be a very effective solution. Whatever works for you, know that there is help for you out there, and you can find the calm you need to really enjoy and bond with your baby.
If this is something that is affecting you or someone close to you, you can contact a counsellor on our Register. Click here to find someone in your area: https://www.nationalcounsellin...