Learn more about how you can use meditation for postpartum anxiety and how you can help a new mother overcome her anxious thoughts below!
After giving birth, the mother experiences a rollercoaster of hormone levels. This coupled with the physical effort of delivery and the stress of bringing a new baby home can leave her feeling bothered or worried. Such anxiety, marked by hyper-alertness and hyper-vigilance regarding the baby’s well being, is widely considered a rational/normal response to motherhood.
This type of unease soon passes as the mother adapts to her new role. Post-partum anxiety is different, it is a serious mental health disorder that, if left untreated can be debilitating. It can affect the mother-child bond and put both at risk of long-term physical/emotional harm.
Postpartum Anxiety is Characterized By
The constant worry is irrational and uncontrollable. Overwhelming feelings of dread, exaggerated obsessive fears, racing thoughts, increased irritability are all signs of postpartum anxiety. The anxiety can also give rise to disrupted sleep and ill-eating habits. One might as well face the inability to concentrate and feel restless or on the edge. Unexplained exhaustion or dizziness, heart palpitations, and chest pain, nausea, vomiting, hyperventilation, and hot flashes are all signs of anxiety.
Post-partum panic disorder and postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are specific psychoses that fall under the banner of postpartum anxiety. The symptoms are similar to their non-postpartum counterparts and they’re specifically triggered by motherhood.
Factors That Increase the Risk of Developing Post-Natal Anxiety
Previous Pregnancy Loss
If you as a women have been through a miscarriage, still-birth, or death of a child, it is likely that you will develop postpartum anxiety.
Depression, Mental Health Issues or PMS
- Personal or family history of anxiety/ depression
- Experience of mood-related PMS (premenstrual syndrome) symptoms
- History of eating disorders
- Highly sensitive temperament or Type ‘A’ personality
- Mother has experienced past physical/emotional abuse or trauma
Postpartum anxiety is often a ‘hidden disorder’ because very few recognize it and it often goes undiagnosed. This often leaves the mothers to suffer in silence. If you feel out of control, overwhelmed, or experience these symptoms, seek medical help. Treatment usually involves some combination of therapy, medication, and self-help/ stress reduction methods.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
This type of therapy comes in handy when you wish to change anxiety-producing thought patterns.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
To accept and understand one’s thoughts and emotions and move toward an appropriate reaction/response.
Anti-Anxiety and Antidepressant Medication
Benzodiazepines, selective serotonin, and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs and SNRIs), that reduce anxiety and stabilize mood. Concerns about breastfeeding while on medication should be discussed with your physician.
Meditation for Postpartum Anxiety
Meditation is one of the stress-reduction methods for postpartum anxiety. While it is not a substitute for medical intervention, it is a great supplemental tool. Meditating before bedtime can set you up for a long night of blissful rest and meditation first thing in the morning will help you stay mindful and centered through the day. Guided meditation enables you to relax body and mind, let go of anxious thoughts, and enter a state of calm. Anxious mothers can practice Yoga for relaxation and stress relief.
How to Support a Friend with Postpartum Anxiety
1. Recognize the Signs of a Deeper Problem
Postpartum anxiety is a stealthy disorder that presents in a variety of ways. Lookout for subtle signs that your friend is overwhelmed/ struggling to cope. Approach the situation with empathy. Show up and shift focus.
Anxious mothers may isolate themselves due to shame or fear. Be consistent in your visits and pay attention to the mother, not just the new baby.
2. Be Empathetic
Create a safe space for your friend to share her feelings, whatever they may be, without any judgment. Offer validation, don’t dismiss her worries.
3. Encourage Her
Reiterate that she is a good mother who loves her child despite her anxiety. Love and anxiety aren’t mutually exclusive. Tell her that she is not alone and that postpartum anxiety is a treatable disorder and that she is not at fault for having it. Accompany her to doctor’s appointments or practice relaxation techniques together.
4. Be Proactive in Your Support
Actions speak louder than words. Give her a break by taking on some childcare activities or household chores (babysitting, grocery shopping, cleaning, or preparing meals). Do this without patronizing her or undermining her abilities. Be a friend that she can lean on without guilt/shame.
5. Meditation for Postpartum Anxiety
The best solution is meditation for postpartum anxiety, be there for your friend while she meditates. Take care of the baby and her chores during the meditation period and give her the relaxation and peace that she deserves.