First off, I want to say, I am not a doctor, therapist, or mental health professional, however, I have had my own experiences postpartum anxiety. I can speak to those and what helped me. Hopefully, it can help you too.
Going through some things a few months ago, I came across a “sleep journal” that I had kept when my son was a baby. Inside were nights and nights of entries like, “Fed 15 minutes before, 8:00pm-11pm, swaddled with one arm out, one arm in, both legs out, not swaddled…..” Entry after entry, and I thought, this is a crazy person. I kept track of everything he ate, how he slept, checked on him every ten minutes. I was terrified of something happening to him and it was a feeling I always had with me. My poor husband, looking back, I was a mess. I also now know that I was surrounding my son with my anxiety and was setting his nervous system on fire too. Now, I know it’s completely normal to worry or be overwhelmed when you are a new parent, but this was obsessive. This is how my postpartum anxiety manifested.
Due to my anxiety, I developed what I like to call, “postpartum detachment.” It wasn’t depression, but it was on the spectrum, and I didn’t even know that was a thing. We are shown and told that it’s either all bliss or you want to drive off a cliff, there is no in between. I didn’t hold my child as much, take him out of his little chair as much, and I was overall detached from physical contact. Sure, we cuddled, and I breast fed, and I held him a lot, I just wasn’t quite sure what to do with him, so I often did nothing. It’s hard to write this, I love my son something fierce, but I struggled.
If you are struggling too, please know you are not alone and you are doing a great job mama! It is the hardest thing you will have to do, being a new mom and you are crushing it! Check in with yourself and be honest, are you struggling? Are you just craving an adult conversation? Parenthood is a funny thing, we ALL go through the same thing and yet we often feel isolated and alone. You are not alone.
Learning from my experiences to help others is why I do what I do. You are the reason I do what I do. There are many things that helped me and would have helped me. Text that friend today, reach out. Your tribe and support team around you are very important, don’t be afraid to reach out. Be honest with your feelings with someone you trust. You can write it out as well. Honestly, Infant Massage Classes would have really helped. I know that may seem self serving, but truly, these classes would have helped with everything I was going through.
Every week for 5 weeks, you spend 60-90 minutes just focusing on your baby and touching them in a safe, healthy way. Massage connects two people and deepens the connection between those two people. Massage reduces anxiety, helps encourage better sleep, helps regulate your fight or flight, not to mention the physical benefits. These courses help connect you to other adults as well and to interact with the community. Find friends going through the same thing, get recommendations to pediatricians, lessons, etc. Having a community to rely on is HUGE asset as a new parent!
These classes would have been an amazing resource and I didn’t even know it was a thing. This resource is available to you and I hope you take advantage! Learn how to massage your new baby and truly connect with them. You will grow more confident as a parent and create a connection that will last a life time.