Postpartum Anxiety

Postpartum Anxiety

Grace Rao, LMSW

Postpartum Anxiety: What It Feels Like and How to Heal

By Grace Rao, LMSW 

Postpartum anxiety (or perinatal anxiety) is a common yet highly misunderstood perinatal experience. It’s not only extremely overwhelming but can often be dismissed by some as “just how things are” in the postpartum period. I’m hoping this blog will help demystify postpartum anxiety and simplify available treatment options. 

Basic facts about postpartum anxiety:

  • Common symptoms include: scary thoughts or images about the baby’s health or safety, disrupted sleep (especially due to racing thoughts), restlessness, physical agitation, and uncontrollable worry. 
  • Some folks worry about their ability to parent, especially when alone with the baby. 
  • Symptoms can begin during pregnancy or up to a year postpartum.
  • One recent study found a prevalence rate of anxiety symptoms in new mothers to be 34.5% at 1–24 weeks postpartum. That's more than 1 in 3 moms!

If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of perinatal anxiety, please hear this: you are not alone, this is not your fault, and perinatal anxiety is temporary and treatable

As a reproductive psychotherapist I like to educate my clients on the following 4 treatment options: 1)Therapy, 2) Medication, 3) Support Groups, and 4) workbooks. 


Talking with a trained reproductive therapist can be a helpful step towards healing. While therapists will use a variety of approaches, the most powerful “treatment” comes from being with a fully supportive, agendaless, and compassionate person. A few therapeutic approaches you may experience are: 

Cognitive behavioral therapy, where you’ll consider the relationship between your thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Pausing to look at your thoughts and feelings rather than through them allows for curiosity and learning supportive strategies.

Mindfulness based therapy, where you’ll learn skills to practice non-judgemental presence and gain regulation techniques that support acceptance and self-compassion.

Interpersonal Therapy, where you’ll consider your experiences in past and present relationships while building skills to understand yourself, improve connections, and alleviate distress. 

Whole-person wellness, where you’ll consider how factors like sleep, nutrition, exercise, and relational and community support may be stepping stones to recovery. 


Working with a Reproductive Psychiatrist can be a very important piece of the treatment puzzle. These professionals are experts in patient care and understanding the interaction between the biological and emotional transitions of pregnancy. While it's common for folks to come in with concerns about medication during the postpartum period, we also know untreated anxiety poses risks of its own. These clinicians will listen first and then facilitate a conversation about options, risks, and benefits in a way that feels safe, supported, and guided by the latest research. 

*Check out Kristi’s List for a searchable list of therapists and psychiatrists who specialize in perinatal mental health.

Support Groups 

Nothing chips away at the stigma and isolation that can come with perinatal anxiety like a peer support group and experiencing firsthand that you’re not alone. Relationships are the key to healing, and one small silver lining as a result of the pandemic is that groups are more easily accessible than ever. 

Check out the Pregnancy and Postpartum Health Alliance of Texas’ list of ongoing support groups here!


The busyness that comes with the pregnancy and postpartum period can make it challenging to make time for appointments. Whether it's time, finances, or other barriers, a workbook can be helpful to use on your own or in addition to other treatment options. Here are a few available for around $15-$20 online. 

  • The Pregnancy and Postpartum Anxiety Workbook 
  • The Pregnancy and Postpartum Mood Workbook 
  • Life With Baby Workbook 
  • The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook: A Proven Way to Accept Yourself, Build Inner Strength, and Thrive

To reiterate, perinatal anxiety, like all perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, is temporary and treatable. RPC Austin is dedicated to supporting individuals throughout the reproductive lifespan and our trained therapists and psychiatrists are available for appointments. 

Visit our website or call (512) 982-4116 for more information!


  • Leach L, Poyser C, Fairweather-Schmidt K. Maternal perinatal anxiety: a review of prevalence and correlates. Clin Psychol. (2017) 21:4–19. doi: 10.1111/cp.12058
  • Loredana C, Antonella G, Fiorino M, Gabriella P, Alice T, Alberto S. Prevalence of Maternal Postnatal Anxiety and Its Association With Demographic and Socioeconomic Factors: A Multicentre Study in Italy. Frontiers in Psychiatry. (2021)12. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2021.737666