It's not uncommon for a new mom to struggle with long bouts of sadness and anxiety related to childbirth. These feelings are often attributed to mood disorders, such as postpartum depression (PPD), and its lesser known counterpart, postpartum anxiety (PPA). Although no one knows for sure how their body and mind will react to having a baby, experts may be able to predict a mom's odds of struggling with a mood disorder by looking at some postpartum anxiety risk factors you probably didn't know about.
Postpartum anxiety affects many new moms. According to Postpartum Support International, six percent of pregnant women and 10 percent of postpartum women will develop anxiety. Symptoms of PPA include: constant or excessive worry, the feeling that something bad is going to happen, racing thoughts, problems sleeping, changes in appetite, the inability to sit still, dizziness, hot flashes, and nausea.
Because some amount of stress and anxiety is expected when bringing home a new baby, many moms struggle with these kinds of symptoms for weeks or even months without consulting with a healthcare professional. Parents noted that postpartum anxiety is referred to as the "hidden disorder" because it often goes unrecognized and undiagnosed.
Here are some factors for postpartum anxiety that may put you at increased risk.
1. You Have A History Of Anxiety Or Depression
Postpartum Support International noted that women who have a personal or family history of anxiety are at a greater risk of developing postpartum anxiety. Moms who have a history of postpartum depression are also at an increased risk of PPA.
2. You Have A Thyroid Imbalance
According to the Journal For Nurse Practitioners, moms with a diagnosis of postpartum thyroiditis (PPT) often present symptoms of severe anxiety. In fact, many of the symptoms for PPT are identical to those of PPA or PPD. It's important to get your thyroid levels checked if you think you may have postpartum anxiety or depression.
3. You've Had A Pregnancy Loss
A study of 192 women in the Journal of Women's Health found that women with a history of stillbirth, miscarriage, or abortion are at an increased risk of postpartum anxiety. The risk increased with multiple pregnancy losses.
4. You Experienced Pregnancy Or Childbirth Trauma
Postpartum Progress noted that many moms who struggle with postpartum anxiety have experienced pregnancy trauma such as hyperemesis gravidarum, bed rest, emergency C-section, or a premature baby.
5. You Struggle With Breastfeeding
The MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health cited a 2012 study which found that breastfeeding cessation was associated with an increase in levels of anxiety. The study concluded that women who experienced high levels of anxiety during pregnancy are at an additional risk for postpartum anxiety if they stop breastfeeding early.
6. You Are A Perfectionist
According to Postpartum Progress, moms who are perfectionists or have a controlling personality may be at greater risk for developing PPA. Often this has to do with having standards that are impossible, or nearly impossible, to meet.
7. You Are Struggling With Your Finances
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine noted that moms who are struggling financially while raising a baby are susceptible to mood disorders such as postpartum anxiety and depression.
8. You Don't Have A Good Support System
The new-mom life can be tough, especially when you have little to no support from family and friends, according to Postpartum Progress. The stress of single parenting, being far away from relatives, or having a deployed spouse can trigger postpartum anxiety.
9. Your Baby Has Health Issues
Pacific Post Partum Support Society suggested that dealing with traumatic issue immediately after birth, such as having an infant with a health problem, is highly correlated to postpartum anxiety.