Becoming a Mum Triggered My Anxiety


Anxiety has is an all too familiar feature of my life. Although it saddens me to hear that anyone has or is suffering too, there is something so reassuring reading about a shared experience.

Here Kate Tweed tells us about how, for her, Motherhood was the trigger for her anxiety.


  • My beautiful baby was a result of IVF….. of 5 years spent wondering if I’d ever become a mother.

  • I’d never been a particularly anxious person. I’d never really experienced anxiety until the day that one fertilised embryo I had from 9 eggs harvested, was put back into my uterus.  From that day I knew.  The constant stream of internal worries/questions/negative thoughts/desperate hope.

  • Two weeks later, when my pregnancy test was positive, I was ecstatic but also terrified and completely overwhelmed with emotion.  And the anxiety didn’t go anywhere once the news truly sunk in.  In fact, it intensified.

  • Was everything OK with the baby?  Was it still there?  I didn’t have any symptoms (no sickness or nausea, no sore boobs, nothing) so I did pregnancy tests daily until I was 16 weeks pregnant, even after my 12-week scan.  I only stopped when I felt the baby move.

  • My husband thought I was ridiculous.

  • Then when I was 17 weeks pregnant, my dad died.  Really suddenly.  He had a stroke and that was that.  A precious life, gone.  He was on the organ donor list, so was kept alive for 18 hours whilst they found matches for his organs.  Which gave me and my husband enough time to get back from Barbados where we had flown the day before for our babymoon, to say goodbye.   We landed and rushed straight to the hospital.

  • Once they took my dad’s organs we were given an hour with him before life support was turned off.  It was truly the hardest experience of my life, saying goodbye to my dad.  I now take strength from the fact he saved lives with his liver and kidneys, and two seriously sick babies with the valves from his heart.

  • I was given a scan in the hospital minutes after my dad died.  They could tell I was freaking out.  The absolute horror of finding out about dad in a frantic phone call from my poor sister.  Two long haul flights in 30 hours.  Just the emotional turmoil.  The nurses were so so lovely.  And seeing that perfect little spine on a screen was so reassuring at such an awful time.

  • The next few months were a bit of a blur.  I loved being pregnant.  I loved the feeling of that little creature wriggling round in my belly.  Except when it didn’t.  I went to the hospital 3 times in my third trimester in absolute floods of tears because I hadn’t felt the baby move for a while.  I found it hard to concentrate at work because everything in me was just focused on the baby.

  • Weirdly, the only element of my pregnancy I didn’t feel anxious about was the birth.  I just knew it had to happen and would be fine.  I did hypno-birthing and found the breathing techniques so helpful.  I now try and remember them whenever anxious thoughts start to creep in.

  • Unfortunately though, I didn’t have a totally straight forward birth.  I was given pethadine too late in the labour (I went from 5-10cm dilated in 1 hr and my midwife didn’t realise how far along I was).  When Scarlett was born she was grey and floppy and was rushed to the SCBU.  Luckily she was absolutely fine, but so it began.

  • The love that I felt for my newborn baby was completely overwhelming.  I just didn’t know what to do with myself.  I couldn’t stop staring at her.  But that said, it didn’t translate into me finding motherhood easy by any stretch (does anyone?).  Instead the word I’d use to describe it was (actually still is) relentless.  How can this little thing need feeding so constantly?!  Why doesn’t she sleep!  Does everyone feel like this?!

  • Feeling so completely helpless.  How can two people with no experience be left with a newborn?!  It’s the scariest thing when the nurses tell you it’s time to leave the hospital, even though you are desperate to get home.

  • I remember walking through the front door, getting into my PJs and sitting on the sofa just thinking ‘now what’?  We came home from hospital at about 6pm, so straight into the long night.  Very frightening.

  • Babies make fricking weird sounds.  And sometimes they don’t take a breath for like 30 seconds.  I remember lying in bed (the baby & my husband were both sound asleep), with my eyes wide open thinking something terrible would happen if I fell asleep.  I felt like someone had to be watching the baby at all times.  I think I got about 20 minutes’ sleep the whole night.

  • The worst thing for anxiety is lack of sleep.  The more tired you are, the more anxious you feel.  Your brain plays tricks on you.  You think the absolute worst things and your brain convinces you they’re real/true.  I’ve since learned this is called catastrophising.  It’s zero fun.

  • At this point, Google is not your friend.  The first tip all new mothers should be given is stay the f**k away from Google.  I was guilty of Googling at 3am whilst feeding.  My husband would find me absolutely sobbing because I’d convinced myself something was seriously wrong with my baby.  I can laugh about it now, but at the time the fear was debilitating.

  • When she was first born, my baby was fairly small (6lb 4oz) and the nurse told me she needed feeding at least every 3 hours.  I took this very literally and set alarms for feeding.  However, I didn’t stop using these alarms day and night until she was 5 MONTHS OLD.  Every 3 hours.  When she was about 9 weeks, she slept from 7pm until 4am – I was so tired I’d switched my alarms off when they went off in the night and I woke up in a blind panic convinced something had happened to her.  She was asleep but I woke her up to feed her.  With hindsight, I think the fact I constantly woke her up is probably a reason why she didn’t consistently sleep through the night until she was 21 months old.

  • Lack of sleep pushed me into a weird place.  I was OBSESSED with Scarlett’s routine.  Because nap time was also my “recovery” time from another sleepless night.  I couldn’t understand those mums that put their babies down for a nap and did housework.  My house was a bit of a state but I took the ‘sleep when the baby is sleeping’ advice very seriously.  I pretty much still always have a lay down when Scarlett naps and she is now 2.  What will I do when she eventually drops her nap?!

  • Eat.  Proper food.  I hate to break it to you but, as necessary as they are, cake and caffeine do not count as proper food.  I remember saying to my mum when I was pregnant, how do people forget to eat?!  That will never be me.  But in my early days I would get to 4pm and not have eaten anything except a couple of biscuits.  Giving birth and breast-feeding is so depleting, you need nutrients.  And a lot of them.  I used to wake up STARVING.  My husband would leave me malt loaf, fruit & digestive biscuits on my bedside table in the early days so I could eat something in the haze of feeding and sleeping til lunchtime in those early days.   He actually did it until she was 7 months old.  What a LEGEND.

  • I found my love for my baby very overwhelming and combined with the anxiety and grief I was experiencing, it was TOUGH.

  •  I would cry because I loved her so much.

  • I would cry because I was so angry that my dad never got to meet her.

  • I would cry because I was so tired.

  •  I would cry because my husband was such a lovely dad.  Because my family and I were so lucky to have Scarlett in the dark months following dad’s death.  Because my nipples were shredded/bleeding.  Watching ‘Save the Children’ ads on daytime telly.  Because someone in Mamas and Papas was nice to me.  I did a lot of crying.  Still do.  FUN TIMES.  My emotions have become very out of control since having a child.

  • New mums have it seriously rough.  We are affected by hormones, lack of sleep and overwhelming feelings just pouring out of us.  There is a new thing to worry about every week – are they gaining enough weight, are they awake enough, are they asleep enough, are they getting enough milk, are they eating enough, are they hitting developmental milestones.  I could go on.  There is just so much to process.

  • It’s also very easy to compare your baby to others.  But now I look back on those early months, I wish I could go back and tell myself, THERE IS NO NORMAL.  Every baby is different, just as every mum is different, just as every human is different.

  • I have found that lots of people are also worried that if they say something about how they are truly feeling (i.e. not perfect) they might have their sanity questioned or ultimately, have their baby taken away.  I certainly was.

  •  If you are feeling anxious or worried it doesn’t mean you are a failure or that there is anything wrong with you!  I think it means that you are pretty normal.

  • The best thing you can do is to say out loud some of the things you are thinking and feeling.  Internalising is the worst thing you can do.  What have you got to lose?  At worst, someone may think you’re a bit nuts, at best they will reassure you nothing is wrong (or help you find out if something is actually wrong).  If you don’t want to say it out loud, write it down.  Just tell your partner/mum/health visitor/friend.  PLEASE.  I promise they will listen and help.

  • Remember that social media is a one second snapshot of someone’s life.  Not the reality.  Scrolling through Instagram (or FB, etc) makes everyone’s lives look a bit more glamorous and calm.  And unrealistic.  Everyone is fighting a different battle you know nothing about.

  • And MUMS.  Whether your baby is 7 months, 7, or 27 years old.  You are all amazing and I salute you x

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  • Reply midwestmama365 November 3, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    Great read! I can relate to these thoughts on many levels

  • Reply Jenny Rhoades November 7, 2017 at 5:29 am

    There’s so many great comments you made that I wish I could post them on my fridge to remember! Seriously. I’m super competitive and have such a difficult time not comparing my daughter to other babies. I really try not to but I can’t help it. Thanks for the encouraging post. 🙂

  • Reply amumwithsocialanxiety November 7, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    Really good post thank you 🙂

  • Reply Now That’s What I Call A List 2017 – Mother of all Lists December 30, 2017 at 4:30 pm


  • Reply Courtney nohr May 6, 2020 at 7:39 pm

    Beautifully spoken

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