Beer and Anxiety

Rhinefelder Beerhalle

I got out of the house on Sunday and went into central Zurich. Hooray! It’s so hard to strike the balance of staying home and resting, and not going stir crazy with cabin fever. It’s been snowing a lot too, which makes going out less attractive. But sometimes you gotta GO!

Anyway, I found a good solution in the form of a trip into Zurich’s old town (Niederdorf) in the snow to eat Cordon Bleu crumbed pork with ham and cheese in the middle) and drink Weissbeer. Did this calm my body or soothe my mind? A bit of both, and well worth it. We went to the Rheinfelder Beerhalle – very old school (we were the youngest people there by a few decades, well, baby S certainly was!) Then we wandered around the cobblestone streets for a bit. None of the shops were open because: Sunday. But it’s actually quite nice to take shopping out of the equation, on occasion.

It’s been good to explore a few more restaurants and cafes with my parents in town. They seem surprised I haven’t been to more local places but who do I have to go with? I’m not much of a one for solo cafe exploration… will that affect my novel writing? I hope not! 🙂

The first two weeks with baby S were just bliss. I felt amazing – so happy and content. I wish I could feel that way always. Why can’t I? Unfortunately anxiety has crept in. I remember this “newborn anxiety” all too well from when P was small – a breathless sort of stressy feeling like I need to get lots of things done quickly before… what? He wakes up? But so what if he does?

I don’t quite know what causes this nasty anxiety, but lately, I’ve been thinking about the Two Factor Theory of Emotion, as you do. I might not be completely undertstanding it correctly but, as I read it, it’s about how sometimes if you experience the physical symptoms of a certain emotion, you feel that emotion mentally. Even though you might not actually be “feeling” that emotion.

So – breastfeeding and early weeks with a new baby. Physically I’m tired, which always makes me cry easily. My chest hurts and my back and shoulders are stiff, which makes me feel kind of stooped and vulnerable. I’m sweaty (a common postpartum thing) and the waterworks are still a bit dodgy (it takes at least six weeks to fully heal –  Sorry if TMI!) And I’m anxious as hell.

But I wonder which came first? Because all these physical manifestations are also symptoms of anxiety. Eg: when you’re anxious, you’re sweaty, stooped and need to wee. Is my brain taking cues from my body or the other way around? Maybe I’m not actually anxious at all, it just feels that way in my body, so my brain is reacting to it!

Or maybe I have a 3-week-old baby and I’m trying to do too much: housework, spending time with a toddler and attempting to crack breastfeeding with a hangover of failure the first time around (bfing is much harder than all the literature says – most things you read seem to say a few days and “no pain”. But when you talk to people in real life it seems as though everyone has issues. Pain can last for more like weeks or even several months, there’s problems with oversupply, undersupply, letdown and engorgement – so many women have these issues that I’m surprised the prevailing attitude seems to be that bfing is no problem. Maybe it’s just that once it goes right, people forget?).

So anyway, perhaps I’m faking myself into anxiety by being a puddle of postpartum and bfing mess. Or perhaps I am just freaking out with a 3-week old. (For the record, I mentioned this physical anxiety theory to my Hebamme/midwife and she said: nah you’re a mass of hormones now and you need more REST!) Either way, the answer is beer. Cheers!



  1. Breast feeding sucks. Yeah it’s convenient and cheap when it gets going. And a good let down can give you a nice little high. But the reason the ‘breast is best’ campaigners are so militant is because breast feeding sucks so hard that it really would have died out if it wasn’t for them (and the science that says its better for baby). You look forward to birthing the baby and then breast feeding means you still have to act like a pregnant person (no alcohol, all the night-waking is yours etc). I enjoyed breast feeding my first child, after the first toe curling month, but I never liked it with my second (the pinchiness never seemed to go away with her). The leaking was so gross. Luckily I never had mastitis. You’re doing a great job persisting.
    Anxiety sucks too. One of my ex-students summed it up pretty well on Facebook recently:

    you know when nothing’s actually wrong but your body is like ‘HEY EVERYTHING EVERYTHING IS WRONG FEEL TENSE AND NERVOUS AND CANCEL ALL OF YOUR PLANS CATASTROPHE MODE’ and you’re like ‘bod, what’s up?’ and it’s just like ‘FUCK YOU THAT’S WHAT’

    Good luck getting out and about. M xoxo

    1. Yep, they don’t call it the fouth trimester for nothing! Just heard of something called D-MER that manifests as bad feelings such as anxiety on letdown. Great!

  2. There’s a lot of study around the mind-body connection – one of the ones I read recently that posture and “power poses” actually do affect not only our confidence and ability, but people’s perception of us. Their tip for a job interview? Go to the bathroom, get in a cubicle, and stand like Superman, chest out, hands on hips, apparently does wonders for you.

    Anyway. Since you’re aware of this, and easier said than done, but when you have a moment stand like someone with no troubles and plaster a big fake grin on your face. Fake it til you make it!

    And breathing, stop and consciously breathe deep for at least 15 in/outs. That does wonders.

    Feel free to tell me to shut up, I’ve never given birth!


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