Coping with postnatal anxiety

So what can cause a new mum to suffer postnatal anxiety?

While certain factors can make someone more susceptible, such as previous mental health issues, there are other factors which can trigger it.

One of these is birth trauma - when a woman suffers a painful, extended labour or an emergency delivery, during which there were fears for the baby's safety or the mother's wellbeing - or both.

Going through a traumatic birth can have long-standing and devastating effects. More information on birth trauma can be found on the Birth Trauma Association website.

If a woman has feared for her own life during labour, it can cause traumatic stress disorder. In the months following the birth, she may find herself suffering flashbacks, taking her back to the moment of trauma, as though it's happening all over again. She may find herself worrying excessively, seeing danger everywhere.

Coupled with the sleep deprivation many new parents suffer, it's no wonder that some mums develop anxiety.

Another factor is isolation. Unlike years ago, when new parents were often supported by relatives living close by, more of us live further away from our families these days. For a woman who has been used to being surrounded by people all day, working, it can be a shock to suddenly find themselves isolated with a baby all day on maternity leave.

Anxiety can escalate quickly when you are at home on your own, with only a small baby for company. Experts say that if anxiety is affecting your ability to enjoy your life, it's time to see help. Speak to your GP or health visitor about your fears. They may be able to recommend a course of treatment such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Anti-anxiety medication may also be an option. The worst thing that anyone suffering from anxiety can do is try to cope alone.

More information on postnatal anxiety can be found at Anxiety UK.


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