Counseling for New and Expecting Mothers
Treatment and Support for New and Expecting Moms
So you found out you’re pregnant, now what? If you are here, my guess is you got a lot of feels going on. Whether this is your first or next child, each pregnancy is different and can bring up all kinds of emotions. If you are having a hard time managing what’s coming up for you, please know that you are not alone and I can help.
As a new or expecting parent, you may have noticed a lot of assumptions our society has around pregnancy, labor and delivery, and parenthood.
Assumptions of Pregnancy
- All pregnancies are planned or wanted
- Getting pregnant is easy/hard
- Pregnancy means a live or healthy baby
- Pregnancy means love in a relationship
Assumptions about Labor and Delivery
- Strong women don’t need medication
- You’ve failed if you had a C-section birth
- A C-section birth is taking the easy way out
- I will instantly bond with my baby
Assumptions of Motherhood
- Being a mom is instinctual
- Breastfeeding will come easy and naturally
- Good moms don’t take breaks
- I won’t need anyone. I’ve got this!
- I will find time for me.
- I will be a superwoman, partner and mother
But, the reality is that EVERYTHING is NEW. You feel like you have lost control of your life and your freedoms (even going to the grocery store is an event with packing the diaper bag, the kid, and planning for all of the things). You question your self esteem and confidence because you aren’t sure what you are doing and are afraid to ask because ‘what if I sound incompetent?’ or ‘what if I sound like a bad mom?’ Remember, you are NOT ALONE and with help you CAN FEEL BETTER.
Common questions, fears, concerns:
- I thought this was what I wanted, why am I freaking out?
- Does feeling this way mean I’m going to be a bad mom?
- What if I don’t bond with my baby?
- What if my baby doesn’t like me?
- Will I be a good mom?
- What if my life changes after the baby is born?
- Will this sadness, anxiety, scary thoughts ever go away?
- How long do the ‘baby blues’ last? This seems worse.
- Do you feel sad or weepy?
- Are you feeling anxious or panicky?
- Do you feel irritable, impatient or agitated more easily?
- Has it been harder for you to take care of yourself, the baby or the family?
- Are you feeling overwhelmed and unsure what to do?
- Have you had scary, upsetting thoughts that you can’t get out of your head?
- Do you feel like you are ‘going crazy’?
- Are you questioning becoming a parent?
If you have asked yourself these questions, or are experiencing some or all of these symptoms, it could indicate that you have postpartum depression or anxiety.
Is this Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression?
After the baby is born, a lot of changes are happening with your hormones and this can lead to all sorts of feelings. Baby blues are very common and affect 60-80% of new moms. The symptoms typically start 3-5 days after delivery and can last between 2 days to 2 weeks after birth. You may feel weepy, more reactive, exhausted, but you can still see joy and your self-esteem remains unchanged. When these symptoms don’t seem to be getting better after 2 weeks, you may be experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety.
The many faces of postpartum depression
Most people have heard of ‘postpartum depression’, but there is actually a range of when the symptoms occur and also a variety of symptoms that parents experience. These disorders do not discriminate and can happen regardless of age, race, or income level. Symptoms can occur anytime during pregnancy through the first 12 months after childbirth. Just because you are struggling does not mean you are a bad mom. You deserve to feel better and with help you can. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, click ‘here’ to set up a consultation so we can get you on the path to feeling well.
Depression during pregnancy and postpartum may present as:
- Lack of interest
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Thoughts of harming yourself or the baby
Anxiety during pregnancy and postpartum may present as:
- Extreme worries and fears, usually around the health and safety of the baby
- Feeling restless
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling panicky (shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain)
- Feeling of losing control
Postpartum Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be caused by a traumatic birthing experience or previous trauma. This may look like:
- Increased feelings of anxiety
- A need to avoid thinking about or remembering the traumatic event
- Avoidance of seeking medical care
- Difficulty bonding with baby
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) during pregnancy and postpartum might look like:
- Having intrusive, repetitive thoughts or mental images
- Performing tasks over and over to try and reduce feelings of anxiety
- Feeling guilt and shame around having the scary thoughts
- Feeling on edge and on guard for anything bad that might happen
Bipolar Disorder during pregnancy and postpartum may present as:
- Severe depression
- Feeling manic or having a persistently elevated mood
Postpartum Psychosis is the most severe condition and is important to seek help immediately. Some of these symptoms are:
- Experiencing hallucinations (seeing and hearing things that others can’t)
- Feelings of paranoia and distrusting of others
If any of the above symptoms or questions sound familiar, please reach out so we can get you feeling well again. It will be important to look at your sleep patterns and if possible address this first. You aren’t yourself when you aren’t sleeping. Also, see if there are any tasks that you can get help with (laundry, cooking, childcare, pet care) and tell your supports exactly what it is you need. There are several forms of help available and you deserve to feel better.