Approximately 6% of pregnant women and 10% of postpartum women will develop symptoms of anxiety.
Perinatal and postpartum anxiety can occur on its own, or more commonly, in conjunction with symptoms of depression and mood lability with perinatal or postpartum depression.
Racing thoughts, intrusive thoughts, constant worry, and panic attacks are all common symptoms of anxiety. In the pregnant or postpartum woman, some common manifestations of these worries include worrying about your baby's health, safety and future; worrying about your ability to be a good mother and to keep your baby safe; or worrying that you might accidentally hurt your baby. If a mother has experienced a traumatic birthing or NICU experience, you might be experiencing flashbacks and nightmares, or feeling like your heart might be racing when you have to re-enter a hospital for routine postnatal care or even pediatric appointments for your baby.
Some mothers may experience postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). In this specific anxiety disorder, mothers experience specific negative obsessive thoughts that are persistent and repetitive about their baby; for example, these could be thoughts that their baby could get kidnapped or drown taking a bath. These are often paired with compulsions that the mom feels she must do to negate that thought; for example cleaning or checking or other ritualistic behavior. Sometimes these thoughts are so strong, moms feel afraid to be left alone with their baby or maybe so hypervigilant in protecting their baby they are afraid to let anyone else (partner, parent, or nanny) to care for their baby.
Perinatal anxiety disorders can be overwhelming- they are also treatable. Whether it's your first time experiencing anxiety or an exacerbation of a pre-existing anxiety disorder, we can get your anxiety levels down, slow down your thoughts, and get you feeling back to yourself.
Resources: "Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts" is an often-recommended book and resource that illustrates many of these common postpartum intrusive thoughts and shares some simple and helpful exercises. Consider purchasing from your local bookstore such as Kepler's Books & Magazine.
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