New motherhood is hard! Being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), you may be more sensitive to sensory stimulation, overarousal, and emotional intensity. This can be heightened after having a baby (and maybe even during pregnancy. Why is this and why might Highly Sensitive Moms be more at risk for a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder? Let’s take a moment to examine this.
HSP’s tend to need extra sleep and don’t function well on limited sleep. Even if you aren’t an HSP this can be the case. Lack of sleep can magnify the overwhelm and emotional intensity that a Highly Sensitive mom might be experiencing. Downtime is also important, which may be pretty unrealistic when first becoming a parent.
There is A LOT of overstimulation that comes with being a new parent. Crying tends to be the big one, with feeling “touched out” as another. These sensory experiences may not bother a lot of people, but for Highly Sensitive Moms these things can be exceptionally difficult. Thoughts of, “This will never end,” and “I don’t know what I’m doing,” can perpetuate feelings of depression.
HSP’s tend to be deep thinkers, because of this they may be analyzing everything they are doing as wrong or not good enough. This is especially true with the expectations society (especially social media) perpetuates. The thought process of “I’m not good at this,” or “I’m incompetent,” can also contribute to postpartum depression. The deep thinking can also lead to intense anxiety, thinking about every scenario where something could go wrong. This could lead to postpartum anxiety or postpartum OCD, where someone may feel the need to constantly check on baby or search the internet to alleviate the thoughts leading to these fears.
What can I do?
The most important thing you can do is to have a support system. Who can take over when you feel overwhelmed? Who can you talk to when it feels like too much? Who can help with the practical things? Who can offer emotional support and encouragement? You may have to dig deep to identify people you can be vulnerable with, hopefully if are parenting with a partner you can ask them for help.
Sometimes things feel too overwhelming, even with support. This is when you should consider reaching out to a perinatal mental health certified specialist to help guide you through what you are experiencing so you can start feeling better as soon as possible.
If you are looking for support and live in California or Texas, please contact me for a free 15 minute chat to see if we would be a good fit in working together.
Please note that this article is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice from a doctor or mental health professional.