New Parents Blog

This blog article focusses on new parenthood and the role counselling can play in processing the birth experience and easing this life transition.

Having a baby can be an overwhelming experience, for both parents, full of all kinds of emotions.

For some new parents 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 parents are bombarded by literature, adverts and online tips on how to feed, what to feed, when to feed, what nappies to use, and 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 parents to ‘do the right thing’ and create this perfect cosy family experience.

The Impact of Birth Trauma and Adjusting to Parenthood

When you add birth 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 has 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. For new dads or co-parents,  witnessing a traumatic delivery can also have an emotional impact.

This can also be true even if you are not first-time parents as every pregnancy and birth is different. The pregnancy, labour or birth doesn’t have to 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 staff’s view and that of the woman/parents experiencing it.

Understanding the Baby Blues

Experiencing the ‘baby blues’ is not uncommon, and this can occur from birth to ten days after your baby arrives. However, if any low mood, anxiety or distress continues beyond this,  please contact your GP, midwife or Health Visitor for help. Dads and co-parents are also susceptible to ‘baby blues’, with worries about finances, supporting their partner and adapting to parenthood playing a role. We each have our own experiences of being parented as a child, and if there are insufficiencies or difficulties in our childhoods, this can impact how we see ourselves as parents and our ability to cope with parenting our own children.

How New Parent Counselling Can Help

The opportunity to reflect on and discuss your birthing experience allows new parents 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 parent’s needs can be shelved at a time when they most require care and attention. It can feel difficult to verbalise anxieties and worries about being a ’good enough’ parent with friends and family.

Counselling offers the opportunity to reflect on your pregnancy and labour experience and any concerns parents may have about their roles as mum, dad or co-parent. A couple of sessions is often all that is needed.

However, for some new parents, this life transition can reawaken historic anxieties, traumas and experiences that may benefit from longer-term counselling work.

If you suspect that you might have postnatal depression, please also contact your Gp or Health Visitor, as additional medical support may be required.

Debbie Kelly MSc is an experienced counsellor offering telephone and online counselling. She works with clients experiencing life challenges concerning anxiety, depression, work stress, grief and bereavement, relationship difficulties and miscarriage/pregnancy loss.