7 Practical and Effective Ways to Deal with Postpartum Anxiety

7 Practical and Effective Ways to Deal with Postpartum Anxiety

How depression affects the brain is different from anxiety. However, people see these two conditions as one and the same, often using the terms interchangeably just because some of their symptoms overlap.

But make no mistake – postpartum depression (PPD) and postpartum anxiety are different. Understanding and knowing what makes them distinctive from one another are crucial to coping with each condition.

Compared to baby blues, depression and anxiety can make you feel sad for more than a couple of weeks. What is different between the two is the way they make you feel towards your baby.

For PPD, you may experience extreme sadness and a feeling of disinterest in your child. On the other hand, postpartum anxiety usually manifests as worry for your little one’s wellbeing.

To cope with the latter, below are seven practical and effective strategies you can try:

1.  Don’t skip sleep.

After getting out of the maternity hospital, you’ll likely have a hard time falling asleep not only because of the anxiety but also because of the demands of motherhood.

But sleep is crucial for your body and mind.

Though it may be challenging, especially if your baby wakes you up every three hours (or even 45 minutes), you must get as much rest as possible. This could mean sleeping in a separate room or taking shifts with your partner in taking care of the baby.

The goal is to have a minimum of one uninterrupted sleep that lasts for four hours.

It also helps if you stay mindful of your caffeine intake. This way, you can easily sleep should an opportunity arise.

Here are some other tips you can try to get more sleep after giving birth:

  • Sleep while your baby sleeps.
  • Skip social graces for now and let others entertain guests visiting your home.
  • Wait a few minutes to see if your crying baby falls asleep without your intervention.

2.  Spend time with other moms.

As mentioned, postpartum anxiety can fill you with worries about your newborn child. It can also cause you to question whether you’re doing enough for your little one.

Although these thoughts and feelings vary for each individual, mothers with postpartum anxiety go through similar things. Use that to your advantage by connecting with peers who share the experience.

Talking to other moms can help reduce your fears and validate your emotions. It can also open an opportunity for you to gain new friends and a support system where you can get advice from people who are currently or have been in a similar situation.

3.  Get more exercise.

While you may still feel the toll of pregnancy, childbirth, and milk production on your body, you need to get some physical activity into your routine in order to ease your anxiety.

Experts recommend yoga and other exercises that incorporate mindful breathing.

Research also shows that aerobic exercises like cycling, jogging, and dancing can relieve anxiety by:

  • Diverting your attention.
  • Decreasing muscle tension that may be contributing to the condition.
  • Triggering the release of serotonin, a mood-regulating hormone that helps people sleep more soundly.
  • Activating the frontal part of your brain that controls how you react to real and imaginary threats to your survival.
  • Boosting your resilience against emotional turbulence.

4.  Hug your baby.

Did you know ‌your baby can also help ease the anxiety you feel?

You can get a much-needed boost in your mood by simply hugging your little angel.

Hugging triggers the release of oxytocin, or the “love hormone,” which induces feelings of comfort and reduces stress. It can also increase the level of dopamine (“the feel-good hormone”) and serotonin (a natural antidepressant that reduces loneliness) in your body.

So, hug your baby, even for just 10 to 20 seconds. This will help you feel better in more ways than one.

5.  Manage your stress.

Stress management is another crucial step in easing postpartum anxiety. Of course, how you manage stress can vary, depending on what’s causing it.

For some, practising yoga, meditation, and other relaxation techniques is effective, especially when done before bedtime.

Meanwhile, others focus more on reducing their exposure to the cause of stress.

As a mother, you may do both and more. Assess your life, be mindful of what different things make you feel, and make adjustments that benefit your wellbeing.

6.  Try aromatherapy.

Breathing in scents from essential oils can have a calming or soothing effect on mothers with postpartum anxiety.

Although the effectiveness of specific scents may vary for every individual, you can try the following popular stress-relieving essential oils:

  • Lavender
  • Orange
  • Jasmine
  • Sweet basil
  • Holy basil
  • Bergamot
  • Chamomile
  • Rose
  • Vetiver
  • Ylang-ylang
  • Lemon balm

Important: Avoid applying essential oils on your skin when you’re breastfeeding. Instead, use oil diffusers to spread the scent in your room.

Don’t forget to consult your doctor first before opting for aromatherapy, especially if you’re currently pregnant or have an underlying condition.

7.  Don’t hesitate to seek help.

It takes a village to raise a child. You don’t have to shoulder all the responsibility on your own, especially if you’re battling postpartum anxiety.

If you’re feeding your little one, ask someone else to do the household chores. If your child is asleep, take the opportunity to get some rest (see tip No. 1). You don’t have to stay on top of everything. Be kind to yourself.

Ease Your Anxiety

Postpartum anxiety can wreak havoc on your emotional wellbeing.

Try one or more of the strategies mentioned here to deal with this condition and watch your mood improve day by day.