I’m a new mom and the anxiety that comes along with being a first-time mom is no joke. You have no idea what you’re doing. While they give you a “manual” called “What to Expect In The First Year” your child doesn’t always magically fit into the advice given. My anxiety started when I realized I actually had to take the baby home. With me and my husband, both of who have only raised cats and dogs before.
Seven months in, the anxiety is not any better but it’s different. It went from “how am I going to make it through the day with no sleep” to “how am I going to make sure this little person is a productive member of society”.
Here are some tips and reminders for soon-to-be and new moms on how to manage anxiety:
1. Anxiety in the beginning is totally normal and evolutionarily speaking very important. You want to be a little anxious in the beginning. You want to check regularly to see if the baby is breathing. You want to research all types of questions. This is a rite of passage for moms. So many moms talk about breastfeeding or being up late at night and reading “how often should the baby be eating”.
2. Your anxiety will change over time. While I was anxious about my child’s safety in the beginning, I do not care about some of the other things that used to make me nervous. Once I started sleeping for chunks of time at night, I started to become anxious about other things like the piles of dishes and laundry that never seemed to stop. I remember the day I did six loads of laundry in one day and I could not believe it. That was the day I realized we moved from safety anxiety to a higher level of making sure everything was running smoothly in the house. It’s totally normal to be worried about one set of problems at a given developmental point and then a whole other set of problems at another time.
3. Find one or two ways you can practice self-care everyday even when it’s really really hard. For me, I was adamant about showering everyday. Not all new moms have the time or energy for a shower everyday but for me this was a non-negotiable. For other moms, it might be getting an hour a day to do something for themselves. It doesn’t matter what it is or how much time it takes, find that one thing that can bring you back to some semblance of normal. As my baby has gotten older, each month I work on incorporating new ways to take care of me. One month I started reading at night when he went to sleep. This month, I’m going back to the gym. Work with your partner and other people in your life to create space for you.
4. One piece of advice that stuck with me is “The days are long but the years are short”. This is a mantra to live by. Your baby may be crying, they won’t take their nap, the cats are fighting, and you’re hungry all at once. The moments can be very hard. They are hard. It’s hard to manage everything, no matter what your load is and how much help you have. But the moment will pass and so will the day and days turn into weeks and weeks turn into years and before you know it, your child will be that productive member of society you had hoped for.
5. If your anxiety is getting a lot worse or you aren’t able to function, you may have Postpartum Anxiety. Working with a therapist that is trained in Perinatal issues can be helpful in your journey to manage your symptoms.
Being a new mom and taking care of a newborn, infant, toddler, pre-teen, or teen has its challenges and can bring anxiety, worry, and fear at any stage. My mom still tells me to be careful when I’m driving on the highway. Either anxiety runs in families or moms never stop worrying about their children.
Therapy for Women in Florida
I’m Amanda Landry, LMHC, CAP, NCC, owner of Caring Therapists. When I’m not on maternity leave, I love working with young adults to find their passion in life, remove blocks that are keeping them from being their most awesome self and learn to live a life they have always dreamed.
I’ve been a therapist for more than 15 years and absolutely love what I do. I’ve worked with teenagers overcome addictions, young adults go off to college and become successful, and young adults overcome depression and anxiety. I have helped couple’s save their marriages and relationships.