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Anxiety after childbirth(8 Posts)
I'm hoping that people on this board will be able to help me see this for what it is, and formulate a plan of action.
DC3 was born 3 weeks ago by elective c-section, which all went very smoothly. She is a dream baby, feeding and sleeping well, and I absolutely adore her - no bonding problems. But I find myself getting increasing anxious about my health, and her health, and life in general.
In a nutshell, I had an absolutely horrendous birth with DC1 - I won't go into all of the details (it would be too long!) but it culminated in an emergency section after a 3 hour second stage, a PPH for me, 10 days in SCBU for DC1. Thereafter followed a stubborn wound infection, various health concerns for DC1 (as a baby - he is fine now) a nightmare of a time with breastfeeding, a baby who refused to be out down and who woke hourly all night for the first 6 months, and just a generally awful introduction to motherhood. I am crying even just writing this much. There was a time in the early days where I really thought he might not make it, and a brief time in theatre where I thought that I might not.
2 years later I had DC2. I had an elective section, which went fairly smoothly - there were a few issues in theatre, but nothing too dramatic. Breastfeeding was difficult again, and DC2 didn't gain weight well. At 3 months old he developed a major infection, and had 2 weeks in hospital. So although it was a better postnatal period, it wasn't perfect. Again, he is a healthy toddler now.
3 weeks ago I had DD, again by ELCS. I managed to get myself in a real state about the section, and didn't sleep properly, even by pregnancy standards, for about a month beforehand, so was utterly exhausted before she even arrived. I had a panic attack on the operating table as they were about to start. The team were lovely, and I am so grateful to them for their help and support. They calmed me down, and the section went absolutely smoothly. DD has been a dream to feed, and is almost the perfect baby. I'm still not getting a full night's sleep, obviously, but it's much better than I'd expected with a newborn.
And yet I find myself feeling increasingly anxious. I am checking my wound constantly for signs of infection, worrying whether my bleeding is too heavy, taking mine and DD's temperatures numerous times a day. I can't bear to let visitors hold her (really I wish that visitors would just go away and leave us alone!). I'm googling to work out what a "safe" timeframe is in terms if things going wrong - e,g, can I now rule out postpartum pre-eclampsia? Every little twinge induces panic. Every time DD feels slightly warm, or sounds like she's breathing a little fast, I worry (and commence hourly obs, SCBU-style). I feel less and less like going out, and am dreading DH going back to work next week. I am still, 5 years later, having flashbacks to DC1's birth (not DC2 or 3s, though). Sometimes when I'm just falling asleep I dream I'm in theatre when he was born, and wake myself up with a jolt and in a sheer panic.
I know that this stage is likely to be time limited, but I just want to get on top of it. DC3 is definitely our last baby, so I won't need to go through his again, but I don't want it to spoil her early days. My community midwife was lovely but we are now discharged to the HV team, and I'm not all that keen on the health visitor. DH is kind and sympathetic, but I don't think that he really gets it, and he's not that big on feelings although does absolutely tonnes in practical terms around the house and with the older DCs.
What do I do? It might be as simple as self help / relaxation exercises, I just need coping strategies for the next few weeks, and any advice would be very welcome.
Hi OP, that's an awful lot to go through. Did you receive any counselling after the birth of your first child? I am no expert but it sounds as though you have something like PTSD after all that has happened.
I don't think anyone could go through what you've been through and come out unscathed.
Your hormones will still be all over the place too, so you have a double whammy of anxiety and hormones.
Try googling Mindfulness, there are exercises which you can use to calm negative thoughts, it may help a little.
If I was in your position I would seek help from the GP. A course of counselling may help, as may antidepressants or anti anxiety medication. Some meds are fine while breast feeding.
Congratulations on the birth of your DD and I wish you well x
Thank you for the reply. I had a debrief with the hospital after DC1 - very thorough, an hour or so with the consultant who was pretty candid - but no counselling (we're in a rural area, and the small local hospital where I had my DCs doesn't offer counselling services - I know some of the large hospitals might - and it wasn't something I ever discussed with my GP).
I hadn't really factored in the hormonal element, but it makes sense. I feel so much shakier post birth (and was the same with DC2). I shall google mindfulness, and shall also make a plan for raising this with the GP, it's been too long. If not before, I will discuss it at my 6 week check.
Really appreciate you taking the time to comment.
I think you need to speak to your GP sooner, rather than later. Monday would be good. You may need some antidepressants or anti anxiety medication for a short while.
I agree that what you describe does sound like PTSD. Especially the flashbacks when trying to sleep.
I think a certain amount of postnatal health-related anxiety is probably 'normal' and is natures way of ensuring the newborn baby is cared for, etc.
I had cracking levels of anxiety after both DCs. It threw me totally with DC1 and then I remembered how it was after DC1 when I had DC2 and just sort of rode out the storm by watching copious amounts of crap TV in the small hours whilst bf. Basically anything to stop my mind going into overdrive seemed to help and almost anaesthetise the anxiety. But I knew it would be temporary and it was thankfully. I would definitely mention it to your GP especially given your previous birth experiences.
I was very anxious after my dc1's birth and I had nothing like what you've had to contend with, in terms of trauma. What you're suffering with really does sound like PTSD exacerbated by the hormonal postpartum deal.
I would definitely go to your GP immediately and request a referral for an assessment for PTSD. Also, medication may help more quickly. You need to be allowed to enjoy your new baby.
I'm currently pregnant with dc2 and keep reminding myself that if I get a similar level of anxiety postpartum as last time, I really must get referred immediately so I can avoid suffering unnecessarily.
You sound lovely and it's awful to think of you enduring this when you could be helped. You've been through an awful lot. There are hugely effective and efficient(and fast) treatments for PTSD. Please get some treatment.
What everyone else has said. You sound lovely and like you've had a really rough time of it. I hope you can get some support. Congratulations on your DD
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