tales of love, sobriety, growth… and everything in between

Postpartum Anxiety & Experience: a comparison

my thoughts are super jumbled right now, but I’m finding writing things down to be very therapeutic and positive. I may go back and edit these posts in a year or something. I may not. So if I use bad grammar or go off on a tangent, I’ll take this time to apologize to absolutely no one for anything.

Before I started trying to get pregnant, I went to a naturopath to deal with mood imbalances I’d been having. I had awful anxiety after having my daughter 5 years ago, and I basically swept it under the rug until it started majorly impacting my everyday life. I’m a yoga teacher. I make a living helping people feel good and relax. But you know, sometimes those who are good at helping others aren’t all that great at helping themselves. 

Things had gotten much better after I stopped drinking, went to therapy, and worked through some personal stuff. But I still felt like I needed to have a plan in place for managing anxiety BEFORE it became an issue in pregnancy or thereafter. Ironically, one of my biggest anxieties in pregnancy is the anxiety over possibly having really bad anxiety. Which in turn raises my blood pressure, and then I have anxiety about that. 

So I began seeing a naturopath who specializes in women’s health. What I love about this approach is it focuses on treating the whole patient, the root causes of the issues, instead of just putting a bandaid on the symptom. I briefly took lexipro in my early 20s and really didn’t like the feeling, so I wanted to avoid medication if I could. ***And I want to clarify that if it ended up being a medication that helped me to feel my best and manage pregnancy, I would have taken it.***

She talked to me about what had been going on. I told her I am anxious over basically everything, but nothing specific. I told her that my mood swings before my period are scary bad. We discussed my diet, the dry scalp I’d been dealing with, eczema under my eyes, and this non stop congestion in my throat. She asked me about my previous pregnancy with Charlotte, my blood pressure etc. I had bloodwork done to check different vitamin levels, my glucose, thyroid, and probably a bunch of other functions I don’t understand.

I ended up doing a dairy elimination and it did wonders for me. No more eczema, no more dry scalp, no more non stop congestion. I’ve since added non-lactose dairy back into my regular diet, and I’ll occasionally have real ice cream and other indulgences, as life is short.

I started taking magnesium, vitamin d, fish oil, and a good prenatal with folate. 

And, no more crazy bad anxiety, or mood swings before my period. Though it’s hard to tell on that one, because I was pregnant 2 months later!

I think a lot of my anxiety after my daughter was born was related to being a first time mom. I remember feeling completely overwhelmed, exhausted, and staying up thinking about everything that could go wrong. I think a lot of it had to do with giving birth laying down in a hospital bed, and then not really being able to walk properly for days afterwards. I think a lot if it had to do with being put on pitocin and then not being able to really eat anything for 12 hours from there on out. I know some hospital interventions are necessary, but that doesn’t mean I can’t think they suck. They suck. I don’t think I realized how much they suck until I had a suck free experience. Well, I mean pushing out a baby isn’t exactly enjoyable but, there are ways to make it far more manageable.

To be fair, it’s only been 5 days postpartum with my son, but the differences from 27 year old postpartum me, to 31 year old postpartum me, are significant. I will attribute a lot of that to this being my second baby and “knowing” what to expect. However, I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I knew to expect anxiety/overwhelm, and I did  things to keep that in check. 

I don’t think I could have asked for a better birth experience. I can’t think of one thing I would have changed. It was so fast, I barely bled, and I felt physically and mentally well afterwards. In the hospital, I remember feeling this heavy sense of doom. With my home birth, I kept saying afterwards, “I can’t believe how good I feel right now.”  I was able to labor and birth how I wanted, on my terms, and in a tub! The tub cut the pain in more than half. Seriously, I can’t recommend this enough if you have access to labor and delivery in a birth pool.

My advice to first time moms and beyond, would be to not wait until you’re spiraling out of control to be proactive about postpartum mood imbalances. It’s ok to feel how you feel. It’s ok to get help, and to make your mental and physical well being a priority. At least here in our area of Connecticut, there are many skilled professionals that can help us. Whether it be dietary changes, supplements, talk therapy, movement, massage, etc. We can get so caught up in feeling guilty about making time for ourselves, but if we don’t, who benefits from that? No one. Take care of you, momma! 

See my previous blog post for a list of my pregnancy support professionals in CT: https://notallbiggirlsdrinkwine.com/2020/07/29/my-home-birth/

image by jmansfieldphoto.com

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