How could they just let me take her home? Don't they know I still don't think I know how to change a diaper properly? What if he gets hurt? I am so not qualified for this job!
Are you currently pregnant or in the process of adopting a child? Or are you presently on the way home with a brand new baby safely tucked away in its car seat? Chances are you're feeling jittery and nervous about being responsible for a newborn baby.
It's an entirely understandable feeling. After all, babies are vulnerable and wholly reliant on you.
In this article, we'll get into why you might feel this way and give you plenty of tips to help you feel like an empowered and capable parent.
What is Postpartum Anxiety?
Those first few weeks with a newborn are wonderful. You get to bond, get to know who this little person is, and learn more about yourself as a parent.
However, as well as all the beautiful postpartum things, there is another less pleasant side effect. You've probably heard of postpartum depression, but its cousin, postpartum anxiety, affects between 11% and 21% of all birthing people.
Postpartum anxiety is a feeling of dread and severe concern setting in right after having a baby or becoming a parent. That means you might still be affected even if you didn't birth your child.
Postpartum anxiety can be developed in anyone and is often caused by hormonal shifts after giving birth, sleep deprivation, stress, societal pressures, etc.
Symptoms of Postpartum Anxiety
As we mentioned, worrying after having a newborn often goes hand in hand with being a new parent. However, you may be experiencing postpartum anxiety if you feel the following:
- Insomnia due to worry about your child not breathing at night.
- Feeling dread at the idea of leaving your newborn with a trusted person, such as your partner or parents, even for a few minutes.
- Heart racing when you think about leaving the house because you're worried somebody may hurt the baby.
- Not being able to control the worrying.
- Being on edge and irritable.
- Panic attacks
What Can You Do?
You can take steps to help yourself feel more prepared and capable, whether you're in the full throes of postnatal anxiety or just feeling the normal fear associated with doing something new in life.
Important Reminder: if you are struggling and need help, Postpartum Support International has helplines and support groups available in English and Spanish. There is no shame in reaching out. There are compassionate people who will help your family, and you be well.
Take some time to actively seek out moments of self-care from the moment you find out you'll be having a baby till you send it off to college. This is especially important during the first few weeks.
You will likely feel like you're attached to your newborn at the hip, and those feelings can sometimes increase anxiety.
Take a shower while somebody you trust watches your baby, take some time to journal while your newborn is napping, meditate and start a gratefulness journal. These moments of calm will see you through difficult times.
Get Your Essential Taken Care Of
Reality check. You will make mistakes with your baby. Ask your parents how many mistakes they made, from when you fell off a swing or drank dad's aftershave to when they ran out of diapers.
Sometimes making sure you have your basics covered leads to peace of mind. Feeding schedule? Check. Diapers? Check. Baby wipes? Done.
Here at BabyCozy, we've created the softest diapers on earth for your newborn's tushy. Couple them with the Coconut Nourish Wipes and say goodbye to the stress of diaper rash. The best part is that we have trial packs that come straight to your door, so you know all your baby essentials are done and dusted.
When your baby has all its essentials taken care of, you can take care of the parts of being a parent that are nourishing, like bonding as a family and recovering from the stress of birth.
Take a Postpartum Class
If you still feel unqualified to care for a baby, why not make yourself feel qualified by taking a postnatal parenting education class? These classes often range from the basics like breastfeeding, changing diapers, burping a baby, and bathing them safely to the bigger things like newborn first aid.
If you currently don't have any other friends who are parents, these classes are a great place to build your network. You will need that network as soon as that baby is in your arms!
Ask your midwife or primary care physician where you can sign up for these classes. Or head over to Google! Courses can be found online or in person.
Please Note: if you are experiencing severe postnatal depression or anxiety, it may be worth speaking to the person leading the class before attending to ensure the contents won't trigger you into a further anxiety spiral. Send somebody else instead of you to bring home the critical information.
Lean on Your Support Network
Other parents are absolute life savers when it comes to supporting one another. We've been there, and we know what it feels like to feel utterly overwhelmed.
When your friend asks if they can help with anything, go ahead and admit to just needing somebody to fold the laundry, clean the kitchen, or help prep food for a few days. This is especially vital if you're a single parent, but things can get overwhelming fast even as a twosome.
Do you feel like you're asking too much of your friends? Put yourself in their shoes and remind yourself that you'd repay that same favor in a heartbeat.
We hope you've found some great tips to help yourself feel prepared for caring for a newborn. It is a huge life change that comes with many tricky situations and feelings, but we're sure you will master it in no time!