Are you constantly convinced you can hear your baby crying when you are in the shower?
But do you find that as soon as you hop out and check on bub, he or she is perfectly happy? Well, here’s what experts say about it these ‘phantom’ cries.
Apparently, this is a common occurrence for many mums, says counsellor Joanna Fishman, Director of Associated Relationship & Marriage Counsellors.
“Hearing ‘phantom’ cries from your baby seems to be very common in new parents, and is most likely just an inability to switch off from the intense demands of parenting a newborn,” Joanna tells The Healthy Mummy.
“It is typically experienced in the shower, or in other situations where one’s hearing is restricted.”
Joanna explains that during childbirth the hormone oxytocin is released in new mums, and this hormone can cause changes to the nervous system, and this heightens hearing so mum can respond to her baby’s cries.
“Our counsellors recommend a few practical solutions for these phantom cries,” she says.
“First, make use of baby monitors (so that you don’t feel like you are relying solely on your haunted senses!).
“Second, find small moments in your day to relax and refocus your mind into the present moment. Hearing phantom baby cries is, in many ways, a symptom of non-mindful living. Mindfulness practices are of great value here.
“Third, consider letting your baby cry (or phantom cry) whilst you finish your shower. She will likely be just fine if you take a few more minutes to rinse out your shampoo.”
It’s a maternal thing
Alison Astair, a behavioural specialist, tells Pregnancy & Baby that these mind tricks are as much an evolutionary behaviour as they are a form of anxiety.
“When our hearing is incapacitated we feel a lack of control, which will prompt every mum to worry,” she says.
Alison adds that women are programmed through evolution to care for their young, and they maximise their senses to do so, but men’s brains aren’t programmed this way – that may be why they don’t always hear their baby crying in the night.
“Mens’ mental state, in terms of the family, is often more financial or protective of the family as a whole,” she says.
“Women often complain that their husbands don’t wake up in the middle of the night when the baby cries. For men, this is a non-developed skill, though it can be learned.”
So the good news is, we don’t need to cut our showers short because of these phantom cries! Hurrah!
However, if you feel anxious about not being able to hear your little one while you’re in the shower, it may be worth having a bath instead, if you can.
If you believe you are suffering from postnatal anxiety, we advise you to speak with your GP.
Treating postnatal anxiety
The good news is that postnatal anxiety can be treated effectively with the right support.
The first step is realising that perhaps something isn’t quite right and seeking help from your midwife, Obstetrician, GP or Early Childhood/Community Nurse. These people can all offer advice on treatment and the next steps towards feeling like yourself again.
If you or someone you know feels as if they may need extra support, BeyondBlue offers support and resources both online and over the phone 24/7 on 1300 22 4636.
For more on postnatal anxiety, click here.