Whether you are an expectant mother, a new mother or just thinking about trying to conceive, learning about perinatal therapy may be a good idea. The journey of motherhood, at all stages, is a happy one but it can also be stressful and trigger a variety of emotions that you may never have experienced before. So let’s talk about what perinatal therapy is and how it can help you during your journey.
What is it?
The term perinatal means the period of time from when a woman becomes pregnant and the period right after (up to a year) giving birth.
“Perinatal mental health refers to a woman’s emotional health during her pregnancy and postpartum period. Perinatal counseling is focused on supporting women (and couples) through their journey into parenthood.” (Daniels, Courtney. “Perinatal Matters: The Importance of Perinatal Counseling and Finding a Trained Perinatal Therapist” Holistic Wellness Practice. January 5, 2021. www.holisticwellnesspractice.com/hwp-blog/2021/01/05/)
Perinatal therapy can be helpful to address existing mental health symptoms that may be exacerbated by pregnancy, to deal with the new stressors that surface as a part of a major life change and the new responsibilities that come with being a parent, or new emotional/mental health challenges that arise such as prenatal or postpartum depression.
What’s the purpose of it?
Perinatal therapy gives women a safe space to discuss their feelings and concerns, develop positive coping skills and determine what treatment options are available and best for them. Their partners can also benefit from this therapy if they choose to have them participate with them.
“While the majority of new mothers experience some degree of the baby blues — or mild mood swings that are caused by hormonal changes after giving birth — nearly 1 in 7 will have a much more severe mood disorder before, during, or after pregnancy: perinatal depression.” The purpose of therapy is to help the expecting or new mother identify the factors that may be contributing to her mood. Support and guidance is provided to address the new stressors that she is experiencing and assist her to transition into her new role as a mother. (Ries, Julia. “What to Know About Treating Depression During Pregnancy” Healthline. February 19, 2021. https://www.healthline.com/health-news/what-parents-should-know-about-postpatrum-and-peripartum-treatment)
Perinatal therapy can help mothers figure out the thought and behavior patterns that may be contributing to their anxiety and/or stress and work towards reducing it. From the time a woman becomes pregnant until well after she gives birth, she will receive a lot of advice from others about how to parent her child. This can be very overwhelming and can add to the anxiety she is already feeling. Therapy can help mothers talk through this and understand that they do not have to listen to all the advice and start to build their confidence in making their own choices about how to parent.
Why it’s an important investment
No one seems to question the importance of investing in a home or a retirement plan or anything that provides physical or financial security for themselves. So why is it common for most people to question if it’s worth the investment to take care of their mental health? Yes, you will have to invest time and money into the process if you participate in perinatal therapy; but it is a time in your life when self care is so important for not just you but also for your child.
Most parents will tell you that being a parent is the hardest job they have ever had, but it’s also the most rewarding. If you are struggling with stress, anxiety, depression or any other emotional challenge you could miss out on being fully present, emotionally, and enjoying some of the most beautiful parts of motherhood. Being proactive and recognizing the need for perinatal therapy early can help you remain fully engaged in all the moments, even the hard ones; because you can’t get those moments back.
It is very common for new mothers to seek help during this journey and doing so does not make you a bad mom. So don’t feel guilty or ashamed to ask for help.
If you are an expectant or new mother and you need help navigating the emotions and challenges that you are facing, contact us, we can help!