Overcoming Postpartum Anxiety & Why Floating Is Amazing For New Moms
Updated: Jun 23, 2021
I gave birth to my son in 2017. It was magical, and I was absolutely head over heels in love the minute I laid eyes on him. Fast forward two months when I was crying on the floor of my kitchen in my husband’s arms, sobbing because something just wasn’t right...something was wrong with me. I had what would be diagnosed as postpartum anxiety and after doing some research I learned that it might be even more common then PPD. So how come I had never heard of it?
The first month was a whirlwind, as every parent knows. The feedings, diaper changes, sleepless nights and early mornings. What no one really told me about however, was the real stuff; the hard stuff. No one talked about the fact that on the third day after his arrival my hormones would hit rock bottom, and I would be crying at the drop of a hat. That my nipples and breasts would be so unbelievably sore once my milk came in, I would be crying in the shower trying to relieve the pain. But most importantly no one told me that postpartum depression doesn’t always mean you have negative thoughts about your baby or that you don’t love them. I chalked those first months up to the "baby blues" everyone talked about and soldiered on; assuring myself everyday that this too shall pass.
My pregnancy was very routine, textbook as my nurse called it, and I convinced myself early on that I would not be one of those women who get postpartum depression. What’s worse is that I literally said it in my head with that snarky tone attached, as if the women who did suffer with PPD somehow did something to cause it. My doula and good friend gave me a book before I gave birth called "This Isn't What I Expected" and I quickly tossed it into a pile of books that I never intended to read.
Although I wasn’t depressed… I was anxious.
SO unbelievably anxious. Did he eat enough? How come he hasn’t pooped yet? Is he pooping too much? I was incessantly googling, reading forums, blogs, anything I could get my hands on. I would watch the baby monitor at 3 am just to make sure he was breathing, and I couldn't stop. My baby was sleeping but I wasn’t. It got so bad that I remember being afraid to take him anywhere because what if he started crying and I couldn’t console him? Everyone would think I was a terrible mother. These thoughts haunted me during the day and kept me up every single night, they consumed my life. I finally gave in, I surrendered and realized that this was bigger then me. I remembered the book that had been collecting dust on my desk and dove in.
It all fell into place and I finally understood that I wasn't alone. I cried; not because I was sad but because I finally had the beginning of an answer. I wasn't going crazy, and it was so comforting to know that this happens to women all over the world. I took the next step in my journey and admitted I needed help to my husband. It wasn't graceful. I had makeup running down my face, and he held me in the kitchen while our supper got cold. But I got help. My doctor was extremely supportive, prescribed me some anti-anxiety medication and within 6 weeks I felt like a completely different person. I was so grateful and simultaneously upset with myself for waiting so long.
We need to speak up, as women and as moms.
For all the soon-to-be moms out there.
For our daughters that will one day hold their babies for the first time.
And for our sons who might have to pick their wives up off the floor one day.
Nothing I did caused me to have postpartum anxiety and it is not my fault.
It's okay to talk about the fact that the fourth trimester isn't always sunshine and rainbows.
And is is absolutely okay to ask for help.
Where am I going with this and where does floating fit into the picture? Stay with me…
The deep relaxation and rest you get from a float tank are unparalleled, and that is why I truly believe floating is invaluable for new moms. For all caregivers. Keeping up with the schedule of a newborn is absolutely exhausting, and most new mothers rarely get more than a couple hours of sleep at a time. An hour in a float tank allows for extra rest that can be gained in a short amount of time. Being a new mom is a challenging time in any woman’s life. It’s easy to find yourself on the bottom of the priority list but self care really is imperative. I desperately wanted something like this when I was a new mom. To get the chance to take a break; one that was real and uninterrupted, and not just me sitting on my phone for an hour while my baby napped. A chance to not be needed for a while, to let go of my to-do list, and check out. There are no questions to answer other then your own, and you can finally hear them. Loud and clear.
The coolest thing about floating to me, is that the more predisposed to anxiety or the stronger your symptoms are, the more relief you get. It has been proven that floating lowers cortisol and adrenaline while simultaneously raising levels of dopamine and feel good endorphins. So not only is floating amazing for your body and soul, but it really is so incredible for your mind as well.
In those early months where sleep deprivation is REAL and you feel like a mombie... surviving off caffeine and baby hugs.. Don't forget about you. You are amazing, and you are killing it.
I know one thing is for sure, that if/when we have another child I will make it a priority to float. It's hard to consciously allow yourself to rest but an hour in the tank might just be the break you're looking for too.