By Kate Harrison
Postnatal anxiety is a condition that isn’t given much air time despite it affecting 1 in 5 new mothers! It is actually more common that postnatal depression and can have devastating affects on the whole family if not treated.
I remember it hitting me like a hammer after the birth of both of my sons. I was on edge, overwhelmed, in a constant state if hyper vigilance and always worrying something would go wrong. All typical signs of Postnatal Anxiety.
Second time round I knew what to watch out for so got help straight away by talking about how I was feeling with loved ones plus my midwife and post partum doula. I also took herbal remedies to support my nervous system.
The postpartum hormone drop is the most significant a woman will ever experience due to it’s sudden onset and intensity.
During pregnancy, our estrogen and progesterone increases significantly but by day three postpartum your levels have returned back to baseline. That’s a huge drop in a short amount of time! This is why extremes in emotions commonly occur during this time.
With all of the crazy hormone shifts a new mother goes through during pregnancy, birth and post partum it is common that the important neurotransmitter GABA can be affected. This neurotransmitter is our anti anxiety, calming hormone which can be blocked by the stress hormone cortisol and diminished by nutritional deficiencies, particularly Magnesium which creates GABA’s precursor Glutamine.
So what helps?
Lack of sleep makes anxiety worse so practicing ‘sleep banking’ can help. This involves napping during the day to try and catch up on hours lost at night. Even just using one of your baby’s nap times to sleep yourself can help!
Never letting yourself skip meals is also important. When you’re blood sugar drops this increases the stress hormome cortisol which will heighten your anxiety. Each meal should contain good protein such as nuts, seeds, legumes etc and healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil or flaxseeds. Keeping your blood sugar steady can keep your mood to stabalise.