This blog article focusses on new parenthood and the role counselling can play in making the transition.
Having a baby can be an overwhelming experience, full of all kinds of emotions.
For some new mums the joy can get a bit lost in anxieties about ‘getting it right’and this pressure, internal and external, can lead to a loss of confidence in parenting skills. New mums are bombarded by literature, adverts and online tips on how to feed, what to feed, when to feed, what nappies to use, what routine (if any) must be followed for the ‘perfect happy baby’. Some of this information can be helpful and informative but can also lead to undue pressure on mums to ‘do the right thing’.
When you add trauma into the mix, adjusting to motherhood can be very difficult. For instance, feelings about previous losses can resurface. If the pregnancy, labour or birth have been difficult or not as planned, being thrown into motherhood on the back of processing your experience can delay recovery and affect adaptation to the new role.
This can also be true even if you are not a first time mum as every pregnancy is different. The pregnancy, labour or birth don’t have be medically traumatic – everyone’s experience is unique- and the degree to which a delivery can be said to have ‘gone well’ varies greatly between the medical staffs’ view and that of the woman experiencing it.
Experiencing the ‘baby blues’ is not uncomon, and this can occur from birth to ten days after your baby arrives. However, if any low mood, anxiety or distress continues please contact your GP, midwife or Health Visitor for help.
The opportunity to reflect on and discuss your birthing experience gives new mums (or indeed new parents) the opportunity to process the birth, what was difficult, how they felt and to know that they have been heard. Family and friends are great listeners but the focus of attention quickly (and naturally) turns to the new arrival and with the demands of caring for a new baby, the mother’s needs can be shelved at a time when they most require care and attention.
Counselling offers the opportunity to reflect on your pregnancy and labour experience and a couple of sessions are often all that is needed.
However, for some new mums, this life transition can reawaken historic anxieties and experiences that may benefit from longer-term counselling work.
If you suspect that you might have postnatal depression, please contact your Gp or Health Visitor in the first instance, as additional medical support may be required in the form of medication. Counselling can the take place alongside this as a combined approach.