Worries, anxiety and conditions

Being pregnant and having a new baby to care for can bring many emotions. All new parents can experience different levels of worry and for some this can become overwhelming anxioety and the symptoms can become difficult to manage. Different things might make you feel worried but working out what is causing this can sometimes help.

Sources of anxiety

  • How you feel you are coping as a new parent.
  • Managing to juggle all the parts of your new role as a parent.
  • Being a good enough parent.
  • Coping with the new change to your life and routine.
  • Money worries.

Speak to someone if you feel like you are struggling with anxiety.

Anxiety can feel different to different people. Some people experience symptoms of anxiety in their body, for example, racing heart, fast breathing, feeling agitated or sweating. Other people may notice a difference in how they are thinking, for example obsessive or intrusive thoughts. It is common to experience anxiety symptoms in both your mind and body and these may have an impact on your ability to do things, for example, going out, being with people, ability to relax and enjoy things. There are many ways in which you can learn to control anxiety and speaking to someone can be very helpful. 

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder where people experience recurrent unwelcome thoughts and the feeling of eeding to complete certain behaviours. OCD is not uncommon and being very worried or anxious in pregnancy and after having a baby can make it more likely to occur. If you have had OCD in the past, you may notice that some symptoms or similar difficulties return. Recognising the symptoms, speaking to someone and getting treatment is very important as OCD is very treatable and manageable with the right support. You can get more information on the Maternal OCD website. 

Pre-existing and past mental health difficulties

The time after having a baby can be a period where women are at higher risk of mental health difficulties coming back. Discuss any previous mental health difficulties with your midwife, health visitor or GP as there are things they can do and supports they can put in place to reduce this risk. It is particularly important to tell your midwife if you, or anyone in your family, has had bipolar disorder or postpartum psychosis.

Postpartum psychosis

Postpartum psychosis is a much less common condition, affecting one to two women in every 1000 births. Although it is rare, it can be very serious. Postpartum psychosis is usually experienced within the first month after you’v ehad your baby. It is common for symptoms to develop in the first few days. At first you may feel elated (extremely happy) or overly anxious. For women at higher risk, it is important that your partner or family are aware of the symptoms of postpartum psychosis as it may be one of them who first notices you becoming unwell. If you develop postpartum psychosis, you may feel tha tthe way you view your baby has changed or that you have developed unusual ideas about yourself, your baby, or other people. You may find it difficult to know what is real and what may be in your imagination. Sometimes, you may feel like harming yourself or your baby. If you experience any of these thoughts, please let your health visitor, GP or family know to make sure you get appropriate treatment. If your GP surgery is closed you can call NHS 24 free on 111.

Top tips to good mental health

  • It's good to talk. Pick up the phone, meet a friend.
  • It's OK to say your are struggling. Mention how you are feeling to your midwife, health visitor, partner, family freinds.
  • Don't take the world on in a day. Set yourself realistic goals, small steps.
  • Accept help offered. It's hard being a mum 24/7. You are allowed time off.
  • Me time. Have regular time to yourself or to do things you enjoy without baby.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help. Talking about your feelings is part of staying healthy.
  • Sleep. A good night's sleep helps emotional wellbeing. Try sharing night feeds.
  • Nature is nurture. Get outside, walk, and meet people. It's an easy form of exercise.
  • Eat. Eat regular meals. Try having a balance - not all chocolate.
  • Believe in yourself. Reflect on things you're good at or have achieved, or ask family or friends to remind you.
Last Updated: 24 January 2018
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