Reflections: Postpartum Anxiety

Baby Rabies founder Jill Krause opens up about her own perinatal mood and anxiety disorder and preps new parents on how to cope.

Reflections: Postpartum Anxiety

Before I had my first baby, I had quite a few fears about motherhood. Having postpartum anxiety was never, ever one of them. First of all, I didn't know postpartum anxiety was even a thing. And second of all, I was just not the kind of person who would become the kind of mother who needed medication to deal with motherhood.

Except I was. I am. Turns out I didn't have to worry about the bathwater burning the baby after all. I wish I would have spent more time prepping to care for myself and less time worrying about what was on our registry.


Fortunately, after 6.5 years of motherhood, and 2 diagnosed rounds of postpartum anxiety, I've learned quite a bit about how moms, and those around them, can find support and help themselves through perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.

1. Understand that postpartum depression, anxiety, psychosis, and ocd can happen to anyone--even dads! And it doesn't make that person a bad parent.

2. Educate yourself beyond the pamphlets the hospital sends home with you. Better yet, learn as much as you can about it and the signs to look for before you have your baby. My favorite resource is Check out their Tools section to start.

3. Ask for help. ASK. FOR. HELP. Ask for help when you are tired. Ask for help with the laundry. Ask for help feeding YOURSELF. Ask for help if you are feeling overwhelmed. Ask for medical help if you even suspect you're beginning to struggle with PPD/A.

4. Make sleep a priority. Seriously, it is SO important that you get sleep. If this means asking your partner to get up in the middle of the night and bring the baby to you to nurse, or give them a bottle for you, do it. Do not make yourself a martyr. Mothers who are up all night with their babies are not any better than mothers who are not.

5. Make YOURSELF a priority. Stay hydrated, feed yourself good food, indulge and treat yourself when you can. Keep your favorite foods easy to grab, re-heat, and feed yourself with one hand. Schedule quiet/alone time. Feel no guilt about these things.

If you are struggling, I hope you know that you are NOT alone. Please, get help because I promise it can be so much better. There is a community of moms and dads and caregivers out here that supports you and knows what you're going through. You got this. You're a good parent.

Follow more of Jill's adventures here at Baby Rabies.

Image via Baby Rabies

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.

Keep reading Show less

This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

Keep reading Show less

It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

Keep reading Show less