Most people have heard of postnatal depression, or know someone who had it, and some suffer/suffered from it themselves. It is a serious condition and fortunately there are treatments and ways to overcome it.
But then there is postnatal anxiety. So what is that? Some might think “Can’t be as bad as PND, surely. “Just get over it”, you might say to yourself. It might be less severe than PND, but it still has a huge impact on a person’s life. The most important first step is to be honest: with yourself and those around you. There is absolutely no shame in asking for help, no matter how hard that may seem. Some mums with a new born baby, find it very hard to cope. All of a sudden there is this little person that depends mainly on you, that you are responsible for! Questions you may constantly ask yourself are: “am I doing the right thing?”, “why does my baby cry so much?”, “do I feed him/her enough?”, “is she/he too hot or too cold?”, ” am I being a good mother?”
Post-natal anxiety can have an impact on the baby and often also on the relationship between the mother and her partner.
And just like postnatal depression, postnatal anxiety needs to be taken seriously. If you think you or someone you know might suffer from it, talk to your GP, the child health nurse or the midwife and they will be able to help you. It’s perfectly normal to be insecure and have doubts when you’ve just had your first baby, but those feeling should not rule your life. Learn to enjoy your baby, taking care of your baby and playing with him/her.
One aspect in the healing process can be learning to massage your baby. I’ve had the privilege of working with a mum who had postnatal anxiety. I went to her home and gave her private baby massage tuition. We had 2 sessions, a week apart. During the first session, she was quite nervous and the baby had problems settling. We took all the time we needed, she practised the strokes on one of my demonstration dolls. When I arrived for the second session, the change I noticed in her and her baby boy after just one week was amazing! Even though she hadn’t been able to perform a lot of massage, she had been able to find out which strokes her baby did like and performed those regularly. Her baby responded to that, and she herself already felt much more confident handling him.
Don’t get me wrong, learning and performing baby massage may not be THE answer to the problem. But it definitely can help.