Feeling anxious, depressed, angry, frustrated, or just not like yourself?
Pregnancy and postpartum can be particularly challenging times for women's mental health. During pregnancy, a woman experiences a multitude of rapid changes to her body, brain, and her hormonal system, as well as going through complex identity adjustments. Postpartum, the changes continue while a woman is also recovering physically. The struggles of adjusting to motherhood are common and yet often a new mother can feel alone, isolated, anxious, and depressed. Sometimes, she may be also dealing with intense symptoms stemming from a traumatic birth.
Read some quick tips on how to support yourself during the postpartum period. Or read more on how to support a partner who's struggling.
Maybe this sounds like you:
“I’m a terrible mother, I can’t do this”
“My partner doesn’t understand how hard this is for me”
“I feel so out of control with worries”
“I just don't feel myself anymore”
“I’m angry all the time”
The perinatal period (prenatal + 1 year postpartum) is a time of great adjustment. We often focus on the exciting and happy parts of creating a family, which leaves little space to honour how having a baby drastically changes one’s life. It should come as no surprise that approximately 1 in 7 women, and 1 in 10 partners, will experience a Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder (PMAD) (Canadian Psychological Association).
There are so many people who don’t meet all the criteria for a PMAD diagnosis, and yet still experience significant anxiety and depression symptoms. So if you are pregnant or a new parent and are feeling overwhelmed, or your mood/emotions are getting in the way of being able to function, please know that you are not alone and with help, you can feel well again. We encourage you to read over our article Why Every New Mother Should Consider Counselling, to help you make a decision about whether counselling may be beneficial for you right now.
Therapy can help you to:
- Understand the complex challenges of the transition into parenthood. Many new parents think they’ll be able to do it all. The “supermom” and “superdad” myths keep parents stuck in a loop of constantly thinking they can do better/do more, and then feel badly when they realize they aren’t a perfect “super-parent”. Illuminate works with new parents to build compassion for themselves in a time period where there is so much change.
- Recognize familiar patterns. Our relationship with our emotional self begins to develop in childhood and adolescence - quite often emotional challenges that are showing up today are actually old/familiar messages from childhood being triggered by current stressors (like having a new baby).
- Explore the roots of where depression and anxiety are originating from. There is power in understanding WHY your body & mind are doing what they’re doing.
- Understand & process birth trauma. Following a traumatic vaginal birth or c-section, it is common to experience an array of disturbing symptoms, including anxiety, depression, flashbacks, hypervigilence, anger, etc. Counselling can help you make sense of these and work through psychological barriers.
- Learn new ways of coping. We’ll examine what you’re already doing to support yourself (you may not be aware of it yet, but there’s always something helpful you’re already doing for yourself). We’ll also explore new “tools” to add to your “coping toolbox” - these will be customized because it’s not a one-size-fits-all type of deal. You’ll gain tools and strategies to help you and your partner better cope.
- Connect with additional mental health referrals if necessary. Your Illuminate therapist will assess the severity of symptoms and you’ll discuss what seems “normal” or “typical” for you with this big life change. It takes a village to support a struggling parent, so appropriate referrals are regularly made.