Why Do I Hate My Husband After Having A Baby?

Why Do I Hate My Husband After Having A Baby?

I’ve always appreciated the privacy of our inner experience. That running narrative that (thank goodness) only we can hear. During the early years of motherhood, I became especially grateful that I had an “inside voice” that only I had access to.

I remember pacing through my house during those never-ending days, anxiety-filled nights and inconsolable moments with our babies where all I could hear was “I hate you” looping through my mind. I heard it when I woke up sleep deprived with dirty diapers waiting for me. It was there when our kids were cranky and hungry. It was there at 5:00 p.m. as others’ work days were coming to a close while mine had no end in sight. “I hate you,” was such a common phrase in my internal dialogue. And no, I wasn’t talking about the screaming baby. 

I was talking about my husband. 

I remember the shock of even having these thoughts, followed by worry that they might actually be true. “Is it normal to hate my husband after a baby?” I’d wonder to myself in silence after those rage-y moments. How could I go from loving someone so much, creating little human beings with that person, and then suddenly having such an angry inner dialogue about them? I remember the littlest things would set me off, like if he breathed too loud or left his coffee mug on the counter. I was oozing with anger. 

The pre-kids version of myself would have thought, “Yikes, what’s with her? Why all the anger?”

But as a mental health therapist for moms and someone with that much-needed perspective, I know better now. I know that suddenly feeling like you hate your partner after having a baby is much more common than you might think. “Why do I hate my husband or partner after having my baby?” is a question I seriously get alllll the time. A lot of this comes from feeling as though you’re the one always doing the heavy lifting. 

Here’s the thing: having children is one of the most stressful things a couple can experience. Research shows that most couples’ relationship satisfaction tanks for a few years after kids enter the picture. The Gottman Institute, a jackpot of research for this season of life, found that 67% of couples experienced an extreme drop-off in relationship satisfaction in the first three years of their child’s life. Now I get that this could sound pessimistic, but my hope is that you exhale knowing that you’re not the only one sitting with a whole lot of negativity and disconnection. It’s not just you and these feelings don’t necessarily mean anything “bad” about your relationship.  

I hear similar versions of my experience all the time. Moms share things like: “Everything they do irritates me,” “I can’t even make eye contact with them,” “I’m not sure if I love him anymore,” or “I can’t stand to be in the same room.”

These thoughts can be alarming and make you question your relationship. But just know that there are likely underlying reasons that these intense emotions are bubbling up. Usually, anger is like the tip of the iceberg: there’s always way more going on under the surface. 

Why Do I Hate My Husband/Partner After Having A Baby? 

Why the sudden anger? 

We know that parents with young kids have an incredible amount of responsibility, new roles, endless household tasks, identity shifts and major lifestyle changes that impact the relationship in profound ways. It’s quite possibly the biggest change you’ll ever go through! So much so that parents often talk about “before kids” and “after kids” as the biggest turning point in life. 

It goes without saying that having a baby can bring incredible joy, purpose, and love into your life, but let’s also acknowledge how much a mother lets go of once she moves into this new identity. This is often at the core of anxiety and depression: who am I, now? There’s this expectation that a mother’s identity should seamlessly morph from an independent woman into a completely self-sacrificing mother as soon as her child is born. But it doesn’t work like that. She’s still that woman. She’s still herself. She still has needs that are worthy of her energy.  

And she’s freaking mad when there’s no longer room for her. 

I recently stumbled across a quote that will forever live in my back pocket: Eve Rodsky, in her book Fair Play, stated: “Resentment grows out of perceived unfairness.” Is it possible that the simmering anger you’re experiencing stems from feeling like everything is on you now? That possibly the division of parenting and household responsibilities isn’t feeling fair?

It’s not just a feeling, it’s the reality for most families. Research shows that mothers are still doing a disproportionate amount of household related work, as well as the bulk of the invisible and mental labor like planning, organizing, preparing, even when both of you are income earners. I stumbled across a recent SELF article which put numbers to this issue in a way I felt hit home: a 2015 study that looked at 182 heterosexual first-time parent partnerships found that women picked up an average of 37 hours of childcare and household-related work each week. That differed from 24 hours for the men. Anecdotally, this feels so common.

You’re fuming because you’re holding too much. 

You’re raging inside (and maybe outside) because you can’t seem to figure out how moms actually do it all. It feels impossible. And you wonder why this feels so much harder for you. 

You witness your partner experiencing mental freedom, alone time, fun, focus. Things that aren’t really part of your world anymore. Your time feels unimportant. You’re so busy but feel like there’s nothing to show for your hard work at the end of the day. And your workday never seems to end.

It makes so much sense that you’re mad.

What I see clearly in my counselling practice (and with the clarity of personal hindsight) is that “mom-rage” or that shockingly nasty inner dialogue is often a result of unmet needs, and an unsustainable amount of responsibilities weighing on you. Usually, the way through this is to find more support, balance, fairness, and validation within your relationship. 

While it’s perfectly normal to feel anger from time to time (you’re human after all), long-standing resentment and steady dissatisfaction in your relationship has serious costs. It begins to chip away at your connection, your joy, and what you hoped this season of your life would feel like. These small bursts of anger or steadily-growing resentment add up over time. 

Luckily, I found my way back to myself. We learned how to parent together. My hateful inner dialogue silenced (mostly!). It’s possible, I swear.

Wait a sec! Are you resonating with this story? If you’re ready to dig a little deeper and find a way through this anger, I’ve created an online mini-course that leads you (and your partner) back to connection, healthy communication, and a sense of fairness in your relationship. Is this feeling like a fit for where you’re at in life right now? If so, you can learn more about the program here.

They Told Me Motherhood Would Be The Best Time of My Life … I Wasn’t Always Convinced

They Told Me Motherhood Would Be The Best Time of My Life … I Wasn’t Always Convinced

They Told Me Motherhood Would Be The Best Time of My Life … I Wasn’t Always Convinced

written by Kate Borsato

It’s normal to question how these could be the best days of your life. Because ultimately, there’s no phase in life that’s all good, or all bad. Most things have a shadow, that’s just life.

Originally published in Island Parent Magazine, (March 2020).

What goes through your mind when someone says “don’t blink, these are the best days of your life”?  

 

I’ve heard this adage a few times over, actually. First as a child, where adults told me how easy it was being me, with no responsibilities or concerns. No bills or a job to think about. 

 

Easy? I questioned. It didn’t feel easy. 

 

In my young mind, I had a lot of worries that felt big! Like would anyone notice that I only had one cool pair of flared jeans… that used to be my sister’s? How embarrassing. Or what if no one asked me to slow dance and I just stood in the corner feeling like a loser? Or would I make a total fool of myself during my presentation the next day? I had a lot of worries. Adulthood looked pretty cool to be honest. 

.

“The idea that I was possibly living the “best days of my life” then was a little disturbing for me.”

Then people told me during my university years to “soak it up, because these are the best days of your life!” and I remember thinking, “huh, is this it?” Now quite frankly, I loved living in dorms with all my friends, eating cereal for dinner, skipping the odd class because I just didn’t feel like going, calling my parents when I needed a little cash (OK a lot of cash… I had zero dollars to my name). I loved university. Adult freedom with little actual responsibility? Yes please!

But even still, the idea that I was possibly living the “best days of my life” was a little disturbing for me. Did this mean it would all go downhill from that point on? And what if I had a bad day? (which I had many). What if I screwed up? (which I often did). These couldn’t possibly be the best days, so what was I doing it wrong?

“I remember those early days of motherhood very well, and even a few years later my memory hasn’t erased the tough times.”

And then the big one came: I had a baby.

Now this, more than any other time, was supposed to be the ultimate best time of my life. This would surely take the cake. At least that’s what literally everyone told me (except other new moms who seemed to stay eerily quiet on that matter).

I knew how fortunate I was to get pregnant, to have healthy children, to have support around me. I was genuinely grateful.

But I remember those early days of motherhood very well, and even a few years later my memory hasn’t erased the tough times like more seasoned moms promise will happen eventually. In fact, my mom tells me she doesn’t remember it being that hard at all. Mother nature does sweet favours for us, doesn’t she? My mother, after all, had three under three (#superhero), she must have had a day every now and again!

But right now, I still remember.

I remember the early days that I now refer to in a joking-not-joking way as the “dark days.” Those blurry couple years where I felt shocked. In pain. Desperately sleep-deprived. Like I had gone through some kind of personality change (or more like my personality was replaced with a vapid haze of weepy-overcaffeinated-nothingness).

Life felt day by day. Moment by moment. Survival.

My mind reminded me over and over again that I should be grateful. I should enjoy this. These are the best days of my life; don’t miss them! Write it all down, savour it! But what was I doing wrong, then? Why didn’t I feel like I was supposed to feel? Am I getting ripped off here?

With the beauty of hindsight, I can already see the balance that I certainly did not feel at that time. I can remember that new feeling of pride that would swell as I witnessed my daughters learn and grow. The joy sprinkled here and there. The giggles. The snuggles. The simple pleasures that I never truly appreciated before, like a freshly poured (not microwaved) coffee and the sound of a quiet house.

“It’s normal for parents to miss their lives pre-kids… It’s normal to question how these could be the best days of your life.”

And as I support new mothers today, their words jog my memory even further. I hear their pain alongside simple moments of joy. I hear their disappointment that motherhood wasn’t what they expected. Their acknowledgement that they don’t love everything about it. Their courage to say that these might not be the best days of their lives. And quite honestly, I feel this sense of collective shame that builds alongside the honesty. This part of us that wonders: “Is it OK if I don’t like everything about this?”

When we hear messages about what’s “normal” that fall outside our personal experience, we have to find a way to reconcile the difference. We can’t help but believe the messages we hear from society. And so, when our experiences don’t line up with what we expected, we often conclude “I’m not normal” or “I’m not good at this” or “there’s something wrong with me” when in fact, we might be feeling something that most other parents feel too. Maybe we aren’t doing this wrong after all.

Most parents have some incredibly difficult times with their kids. Most parents have moments where they feel like they don’t know what they’re doing. It’s normal for parents to miss their life pre-kids, to miss their career, their identity, their freedom, their sleep. It’s normal to feel frustrated, discouraged, exhausted. It’s normal to question how these could be the best days of your life.

“What if, during your darkest days, you could expand your awareness to also notice your encounters with ease and joy?”

Because ultimately, there’s no phase in life that’s all good, or all bad. Most things have a shadow, that’s just life. Maybe our challenge is to accept the grey-ness rather than searching for black and white? So what if you allowed yourself to acknowledge how hard these days can be, without judging yourself for it and without taking on guilt?

And what if, during your darkest days, you could expand your awareness to also notice your encounters with ease, joy, and fun, no matter how brief they seem? Remembering that every day brings a whole mixture of emotions. Can you look for the joy, seek it out, go find it? Can you give more energy to it when it happens, make it bigger, soak it in?

There’ll be times in life when we can’t necessarily change the situation, but we can always shift our mindset. We can shine our awareness in new areas. We can give ourselves compassion. We can allow ourselves to show up and experience life exactly as it truly is without telling ourselves that we’re not good enough or that we’re doing it wrong.

And hopefully, there’ll be times when we can find the silver lining somewhere in those dark days. In fact, many people who go through difficult life experiences go on to say they wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. They grew from it. It became part of their tapestry, their life story. So even during these phases and stages of parenting that bring about incredible challenges, I wonder how they’ll change you? How they’ll help you grow, and shift and transform into an even better version of you? You might not look back to say these were the best days of your life, but you’ll probably look back with a grateful smile, not trading those memories for anything.

xox

Kate

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KATE BORSATO
Kate is a counsellor, a parent, and a writer who supports parents to create more fulfilling lives! Focused on relationships, parenting, and connection to self, Kate shares articles, free resources, and online courses for parents who are looking to live heart-centered, balanced, and connected lives.
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What Causes Postpartum Depression?

What Causes Postpartum Depression?

What Causes Postpartum Depression?

written by Kate Borsato

If you’re a soon-to-be mom or already chin-deep in motherhood, there’s a good chance you have at least some understanding of postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is a common experience but, unfortunately, it’s not an easy one. It’s important to have a clear understanding of what postpartum depression actually is… and what some of the common risk factors are. In this post, I break it all down for you so that you can better understand this mental health struggle and it’s causes.

How Do We Define Postpartum Depression?

The thing to know about postpartum depression is that it’s similar to other depressive episodes. The difference is that it happens to a woman during pregnancy or during the first year after giving birth. The onset can be at ANY time during that window.

This is important to know for mothers who didn’t struggle in those first weeks or months but whose emotional state has since suffered. Symptoms of postpartum depression run the gamut from feeling weepy, hopeless and down to feeling trapped or experiencing long crying spells. Excessive overwhelm, anxiousness, feeling on-edge or frustrated are also symptoms of postpartum depression. Again, this is depression that shows up during this particular season of life.

(Interested in learning more about the symptoms of PPD? Watch the video here)

Many people want to know what “causes” postpartum depression, however, we need to look at so many different variables to understand this. There are reasons that you might be more likely to develop PPD, but we can’t always draw a straight line to the particular factor that made the difference. So that said, focusing on “risk factors” can help us understand what’s at play.

Who Is At Risk?
Why do some women struggle after having their baby when others don’t? I hear this question all the time. The frustration of “Why am I going through this and she isn’t?” can add to the difficulty of this experience. Something that expecting or new moms should know is that there are common risk factors.

Let’s dive into the most common factors for you to know:

1. Personal history of depression or anxiety.
Your mental health background plays a role in whether or not you’re likely to experience postpartum depression. If you suffered from anxiety and depression before your pregnancy, you’re at a higher risk for postpartum depression after. The same goes if you experienced depressive episodes after previous pregnancies.

2. Having a family history of depression or mental illness.
Take a look at your family tree. How many depression sufferers are in your family? Did your mother have a tough time with mental health after giving birth? Did either of your parents battle emotional lows? These all increase your risk.

3. Domestic violence or abuse in your relationship.
Having a baby is already one of the most difficult adjustments a person can make in their life. That means that even in the most stable of relationships, the mother can suffer during this period of immense change. If on top of that, there’s also physical and/or emotional abuse taking place, it’s very likely that depression can set in.

4. You don’t have enough support.
Think about what you know about family systems in the past where extended family members played a more active role in a child’s life. Mothers aren’t meant to go through early motherhood alone! In our hustle culture and perfectionist society, we think we’re supposed to just naturally be good at everything included in the mom role. We hesitate to ask for help! Many moms believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness or that caring for your baby should be easy, but this sets them up to feel like they’ve failed. You’re not just naturally supposed to know what to do all the time.

Women who have support fare better emotionally. So ask your mother, your sister or that best friend. If you don’t have support already built-in, can you hire someone to help? Are there any free community services that help moms in need?

5. Stressful life events.
This year (2020) has been a particularly stressful time for most people. Stress increases your chances of experiencing depression in general and postpartum depression is definitely included! Think about what has happened in your life recently. Have you or your partner lost employment? Are you stressed about the security of your income? Family members coming down with COVID-19 is a major stressor. Perhaps you’ve also recently relocated.

All of these are stressful life events are worth paying attention to when it comes to considering the state of your mental health post-baby.

6. Childbirth trauma.
It doesn’t matter how you gave birth or what others say about your experience: if it was incredibly upsetting, scary, or traumatic, you’re susceptible to postpartum depression. Even if nothing went “wrong” during labour, if it felt traumatic and you’re having a hard time processing it or feeling emotional, then yes, it was a traumatic experience. It’s so hard to heal from that difficult experience when you’re expected to just shift your focus and care for a newborn!

(Here’s a great book to read if you feel like you’re dealing with childbirth trauma).

7. Perfectionism and high expectations.
A perfectionist mindset and anxiety are best friends. People who score high on perfectionism tests tend to battle anxiety and depression more often than those who score low. If you have incredibly high expectations for yourself in general, it’s useful to evaluate how you assume you’ll be as a mother. If you accept nothing less than nailing it all the time, you may have a hard reality check postpartum because a certain level of difficulty and challenge in motherhood is inevitable. This isn’t a reflection of you: it’s so hard to just give endlessly.

When you expect yourself to be perfect at something you’ve never done before, that can really take a toll on your mental wellbeing.

Just as it’s so important to know whether you’re at risk for postpartum depression, it’s also important to know that these seven risk factors don’t always predict that you’ll develop depression. If you recognized yourself in all of the above, this doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do. Knowing what you now know about what causes postpartum depression, you can actually prepare by taking preventative measures.

So, if you notice that you’re lacking in your support system, maybe reach out (or even hire) help before your due date. If you know that you’re a perfectionist, re-jig those expectations now! If a recent event has you feeling anxious, see if there’s an action plan you can put in place to ease that stress.

I’ve created a workbook to support mothers’ mental wellness during the postpartum period. You can download it for FREE!

Adjusting to life with a new baby is hard but remember that there’s so much that you can control. There’s so much that you can do to ensure your mental and emotional wellbeing ahead of time.
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KATE BORSATO
Kate is a counsellor, a parent, and a writer who supports parents to create more fulfilling lives! Focused on relationships, parenting, and connection to self, Kate shares articles, free resources, and online courses for parents who are looking to live heart-centered, balanced, and connected lives.
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Signs of Postpartum Depression (What NOT to Ignore)

Signs of Postpartum Depression (What NOT to Ignore)

What Causes Postpartum Depression?
(What NOT to Ignore)

written by Kate Borsato

As with many experiences in early motherhood, postpartum depression can be a source of confusion. With mental health struggles — postpartum depression included—it can be easy to allow our perception of what we think the symptoms are supposed to look like distract us from seeing the real thing.
Signs of Postpartum Depression (What NOT to Ignore) - Kate Borsato

Many women think that postpartum depression only happens in the days and weeks immediately after delivery. In reality, the onset can happen at any point within the first year post-baby. They also might be experiencing ongoing symptoms of this mental health issue but dismiss it as “normal” or a short bout of “baby blues.”

I’m here to clarify what postpartum depression actually is, what symptoms to look for and which signs to not ignore. If you’re a mother experiencing what you think could be postpartum depression, reward yourself for showing up, acknowledging your struggle and seeking to improve it. By being on this page, you’ve already done some of the hard work. Let’s keep that momentum going!

And by the way, it’s not just you: one in five women go through this after giving birth, so you’re not alone. You shouldn’t have to suffer, nor should you have to go through your depression alone. The below symptoms are all treatable—if they sound like you, it could be time to seek support.

Baby Blues Versus Depression: What’s The Difference?
If you’re experiencing depression, that last thing you need is to minimize it, push it aside or dismiss the experience as normal or to be expected. Sure, “baby blues” might be a term you hear time and time again. But it’s not the same thing as postpartum depression. Baby blues is the emotional dip that happens to most mothers in the five to ten days postpartum. What’s going on in this case is that your hormones quickly start returning to pre-pregnancy levels, your body is adjusting to new demands, and that can cause you to have trouble sleeping or to feel weepy. With baby blues, you can be feeling sad, down or reactive but you recover within days.

Postpartum depression is different because it’s a depressive episode that lasts for a prolonged period of time. This is a period of ongoing challenges. If you don’t bounce back or feel like yourself again after a matter of days, then that’s a sure sign of postpartum depression. For whoever needs to hear it, this isn’t something that you should just accept. You deserve to feel better.

When Does It Happen?
Postpartum depression can start at any point between pregnancy up to the first year of having your baby. The common myth about this mental health issue is that it happens in the first six weeks or so… and then poof, the risk is over!

That’s not true.

The onset of postpartum depression can start at absolutely any point within the first year. That can have a very different look for many mothers. For example, maybe one mother feels fine for several months but starts to experience symptoms six or seven months in. For another mother, that situation could start much earlier.

Another thing to note is that if postpartum depression isn’t treated, it doesn’t disappear on its own. A mother with school-age children might not be the image that comes to mind for postpartum depression but if she started to experience symptoms within that first year and it wasn’t treated, she very well could still be battling it.

Common Symptoms Of Postpartum Depression:

Worried that you might be experiencing postpartum depression? Read through these common symptoms to understand this more.

1) Experiencing really low moods.
If you’re feeling down, sad, hopeless, weepy and as though your situation will never change, that could be a sign of postpartum depression. You might feel trapped or like there isn’t a way out. Again, these feelings will have lasted for a prolonged period of weeks at a time.

2) Despair and complete overwhelm.
We might hear the word “overwhelm” or “burnout” a lot, but not fully understand what that actually feels like. Despair or complete overwhelm can feel like you can’t manage even the simplest of tasks. Sometimes small things might feel like huge demands or possibly push you over the edge.

3) Sleep disturbances.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, it could be a sign that you’re experiencing postpartum depression. You might be thinking “Hi, I just had a baby—of course I’m experiencing interrupted sleep!” What I’m talking about is above and beyond the normal interruptions caused by your baby. If you can’t fall back asleep, lie wide away in the wee hours or put off going to sleep and getting proper rest, it might be worth reaching out for some support.

4) Loss of enjoyment in things that normally would bring you joy.
What were the things you enjoyed before this low period? If seeing friends, cooking with loud music on, reading or tuning into your favourite Netflix series just isn’t bringing any joy anymore, that’s often a sign of depression.

5) Inability to manage day-to-day tasks.
During a normal phase of life, it feels doable to take a shower or text that friend back. During a depressive period, however, these simple things that you hardly give a second thought can feel… next to impossible. What is something simple that you’ve been having a hard time doing lately?

6) Having thoughts of suicide, self-harm or harming others.
This can be a hard one to take a look at. If you’re feeling suicidal or thinking about harming yourself, you are likely experiencing depression.

Some common thoughts can sound like “My baby would be better off without me,” or “Everything would be better if I was gone.” If this is hitting home, you need to understand that these thoughts are caused by depressive feelings. You are good enough, you are the perfect mom for your baby, your baby and your family need you. This is a really important symptom of postpartum depression and it is absolutely essential that you reach out for help. You can call a crisis line in your area and of course, 911 in an emergency.

So Let’s Do A Quick Recap.

The main things to know about postpartum depression is that it’s a depressive episode that can start at any point during pregnancy or within the first year of giving birth. It’s prolonged (as in, it lasts at least weeks at a time), it’s not the baby blues, it’s not to be diminished and it’s certainly not something that new moms should just deal with alone.

While we can often feel shame when we don’t feel like our best selves, it’s so important to seek proper support during this time.

You deserve to feel better. You deserve to enjoy motherhood! Don’t stay silent, reach out to a therapist, a doctor, your partner, your family or a trusted friend. I’ve also put together a workbook that will help you during this difficult period.

Remember: motherhood is hard to adjust to so if you’re experiencing postpartum depression, that makes sense given all that’s on your plate, and there’s nothing wrong with you.

Like what you’re reading? Pass it along or save for later!!
KATE BORSATO
Kate is a counsellor, a parent, and a writer who supports parents to create more fulfilling lives! Focused on relationships, parenting, and connection to self, Kate shares articles, free resources, and online courses for parents who are looking to live heart-centered, balanced, and connected lives.
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The 4 most obvious signs of anxiety in pregnancy

The 4 most obvious signs of anxiety in pregnancy

While the rates of mood disorders in pregnancy and in postpartum are exactly the same, we remain tight-lipped about mental health challenges in pregnancy. Prenatal anxiety is just as common as postpartum depression.

signs of anxiety in pregnancy

Though mainstream conversation wouldn’t have you believe it, anxiety in pregnancy is just as common as postpartum depression. In discussions about the transition to motherhood, we hear the term “postpartum depression” quite commonly. Mental health struggles during pregnancy however is a neglected topic. It’s no wonder that no one seems to know about the mental health matters that so many women suffer from in the months and weeks after conceiving. While the rates of these mood disorders in pregnancy and in postpartum are exactly the same, we remain tight-lipped about the former.

And I want to change that. 

It shouldn’t be news that women experience anxiety and depression in pregnancy. Women carrying a baby have been struggling with their mental health since… always.

Just because we don’t talk about it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. But because we don’t talk about it, many women feel isolated in their experiences. So. If you’re pregnant and feeling worried, down, anxious or just having a hard time managing your mood, the first piece of good news is that you’re not alone. The second piece of good news is that all of your symptoms are treatable. And I mean all of them.

Society may have you thinking that pregnancy is simply a blissful period of basking in the prenatal glow. I’m here to debunk this myth.  Truthfully, pregnancy can be a challenging time. I mean, why wouldn’t it be? Your body is going through immense change and your entire life is about to shift!

If you’re having a hard time recognizing your own anxiety, you’re in the right place.

Below are the four most obvious signs that you’re struggling and might need some extra support.  

1. You feel nervous, agitated, or uneasy.

You can probably think of a time recently when you felt nervous about something (that awkward conversation with your mother in law, the one-on-one call with your boss). Physical feelings of jitteriness, discomfort and unease are sensations you can usually feel in your body. 

You know that uncomfortable stomach-dropping, heart-pounding feeling that you have before a major pitch or presentation? 

Sometimes we struggle with those anxious sensations for seemingly no reason in our day-to-day life. If you’re feeling like that consistently throughout the day, that’s a problem and a huge sign that anxiety is playing too large a role right now. There are many simple ways to manage that! Listen to your body—it’s saying something.

2. You’re having stomach issues and difficulty breathing, or sleeping.

Anxiety often shows up in your body in more than a butterflies-in-your-tummy kind of way. Oftentimes, people even mistake physical symptoms of anxiety for something else. (In my experience in early motherhood, I didn’t recognize my anxiety and thought I had problems with my lungs!)

Constantly having pain or a queasy feeling in your stomach or having diarrhea are physical signs of anxiety. Many also express difficulty sleeping which can take a toll when nights of poor sleep quality accumulate. A common physical symptom of anxiety (and one that women especially talk about ) is shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and just feeling like you can’t get enough air. 

Have you experienced one or more of these symptoms since becoming pregnant? Your body is always giving clues when things are out of balance—paying attention to these clues is a pretty good step to get your health (physical and mental) back to where you want it.

3. Scary or disturbing thoughts.

In the time since you found out you were pregnant, you may have started to experience unsettling thoughts. Unwanted images or scary scenarios that pop into your mind out of the blue are called intrusive thoughts. They’re SO common especially during pregnancy and early motherhood.

We’ve all had that experience of driving down the road and suddenly envisioning ourselves veering into oncoming traffic or driving off a bridge. It’s a scary scenario we’ve imagined, it flashes into our mind out of nowhere and it’s quite disturbing. That’s an intrusive thought. 

The phenomenon that causes that dark traffic accident thought is the same one at play during pregnancy. In pregnancy, intrusive thoughts might involve you getting hurt and losing your baby or having a complication during labour. This is really common but we can add it to the list of perinatal mental health concerns that society ignores.

Because intrusive thoughts aren’t commonly discussed, most women don’t know that this sign of anxiety actually has a name. Nor do they realize that it happens to the majority of pregnant women—not just them. (If only we had realized how normal this is, we would have spared ourselves so much guilt and shame…)

How to know if these thoughts are dangerous: 

If you’re experiencing intrusive thoughts which revolve around harm coming to you or your baby, consider if these thoughts are in alignment with what you want. If you’d NEVER be OK with that scenario coming true, then they’re likely a sign of anxiety. If the thought is in alignment with what you want, then you do need to reach out for help (call 911).  Most of the time, intrusive thoughts are merely a sign of anxiety—which is why we find them disturbing.

There’s no shame in that.

4. Worrying about the future.

If you’re spending a lot of your time running possible scenarios through your mind or stressing about the “what ifs,” that’s a sign that you may be suffering from anxiety in pregnancy. Your inner dialogue might run a string of worries like “What if my boss doesn’t give me enough time off?”, “What if my husband is a bad dad?” or “What if something bad happens when I go into labour?”

There’s a difference between anticipating what’s ahead and getting stuck fretting about what could happen way down the road. If the hypotheticals of the future have you unable to properly live in the present, that’s a sign of anxiety. If you’re feeling stuck in this anxious thought cycle, know that you absolutely can move past this state of worry.

Even though some anxiety during pregnancy is completely normal, it’s not spoken about often enough in our society. When we don’t acknowledge these painful experiences, women feel isolated in their struggles. Feeling as though you’re the only one with these experiences creates a sense of shame. That just makes it even more difficult for women to reach out and get support.

If any of the above signs of anxiety during pregnancy describe what you’re going through, just remember that you’re not alone, and each of these symptoms is completely treatable.

You deserve support. You can feel at ease in your own mind with the proper tools, information and skills.