Pregnancy and Postnatal Depression Counselling

Pregnancy (antenatal, prenatal) depression can affect around one in eight pregnant women. No doubt this has been around for a very long time but is only recently scientifically and medically being recognised as a significant issue for some pregnant women, perhaps even as common as postnatal depression.

Pregnancy naturally causes peaks and troughs in general mood, due to hormones, physical changes and stress associated with the pregnancy, but if you feel that your mood is low more than you are feeling happy and you are feeling particularly anxious, you should talk to your GP or midwife. The earlier you are able to seek help and put support in place, the better you will feel moving into the birth and postnatal phase.

Postnatal Depression and anxiety counselling at this stage can be helpful in talking through your low mood and putting into place coping mechanisms.

Postnatal Mood Disorders

In general terms, ‘baby blues’ is a common experience for new mums and tends to occur soon after birth and up to 10 days after baby is born. ‘Baby blues’ is generally associated with the hormonal changes following birth and can lead to low mood and tearfulness.

Postnatal depression, however, is where the low mood lasts for weeks or months, and is often associated with other ‘symptoms’ such as anxiety and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). Postnatal depression is said to affect approximately 1 in 10 women and can occur any time in the year after your baby is born and can continue into the second year after birth.

There are several risk factors that may increase the likelihood of postnatal depression:

Some of the symptoms associated with postnatal depression are:

This is by no means an exhaustive list and not everyone will experience the same symptoms, you are the best guide as to how you feel. Sometimes, it is hard to realise you are feeling depressed and you may need to rely on feedback from those who know you, such as your partner, family and close friends.

Talking to your GP, midwife or Health Visitor about any concerns you have is vital in putting into place the help and support you may need. This is especially important if you are experiencing thoughts about self harm or suicide. Sometimes having someone to go with you to the GP can be helpful.

Postpartum (Puerperal) Psychosis

This is a serious but rare postnatal disorder that occurs in the days and weeks after baby arrives. The symptoms tend to be extreme, whether it is low mood, mania, hallucinations and thoughts about harming yourself or your baby. This is a medical emergency and usually requires hospitalisation.

If you or your partner/family have any concerns please seek help from your GP immediately.

Counselling for pregnancy and postnatal depression alongside any medical input can be beneficial as it provides the opportunity to talk through how you are feeling and to put into place coping mechanisms. Counselling offers support along side medication from your doctor; it is important to discuss this with your doctor and counsellor for an effective collaborative approach.

 

FAQs

Pregnancy depression is a condition where a pregnant woman experiences sustained low mood, anxiety, and other depressive symptoms during pregnancy. It is now recognised as a significant issue that can affect about one in eight pregnant women.
While pregnancy depression occurs during pregnancy, postnatal depression begins after the baby is born and can last for weeks or months. PND can occur anytime within the first 12 months after giving birth. Both involve low mood and anxiety, but they occur at different times in the childbearing journey.
Signs include persistent sadness, tearfulness, increased anxiety, feeling less happy than usual, and other emotional disturbances that outweigh the typical mood fluctuations expected during pregnancy.
It’s important to speak to your GP, midwife or health visitor as soon as you notice signs of depression. They can provide guidance and support and refer you to further help if necessary. Many healthcare regions now have a Perinatal Mental Health Team.
Baby blues’ is a brief period of mood swings, sadness, and tearfulness that typically occurs shortly after childbirth and resolves within about 10 days. Postnatal depression is more severe and long-lasting and may require professional help.
Risk factors include trauma during the current or previous births, pregnancy loss, bereavement during the perinatal period, relationship problems, lack of social support, previous mental health issues, and personal factors like low self-esteem.
Contact your GP, midwife or Health Visitor to discuss your symptoms. They can offer appropriate treatments or referrals to help manage your condition effectively.
Yes, counselling can be an effective treatment for postnatal depression. It can help you to talk through your feelings, develop coping mechanisms, and provide emotional support alongside any medical support such as medication from your Gp.
Postpartum psychosis is a rare but very serious mental health condition that can occur after childbirth, characterised by extreme mood swings, hallucinations, and delusional thinking. It is a medical emergency that usually requires hospitalisation. If you suspect a loved one or relative is experiencing this, please call their Gp or 111 for immediate support and advice.
Support can include being attentive to the person’s needs, helping them seek professional help, offering emotional support, and assisting with daily tasks to reduce stress.
Yes, counselling can be an effective treatment for postnatal depression. It can help you to talk through your feelings, develop coping mechanisms, and provide emotional support alongside any medical support such as medication from your Gp.

Counselling Process:

  • Initial Contact: Women experiencing symptoms of postnatal depression make contact through the counsellor’s website.
  • Initial Call: Most counsellors offer a free initial phone/zoom call to discuss the client’s issues and requirements. It is a good idea to take this up to ensure that you feel your chosen therapist is a good fit for you.
  • Assessment Session: Early sessions focus on understanding the severity of the depression, the client’s emotional state, and any immediate concerns, such as bonding issues with the baby or extreme fatigue.
  • Identifying Objectives: Goals might include managing daily mood swings, improving sleep patterns, enhancing the mother-baby relationship, and developing strategies to handle anxiety and stress.
  • Plan Development: Together with the counsellor, a personalised plan is established including weekly scheduled therapy sessions, any emergency contact protocols, and self-care strategies and tools.
  • Regular Sessions: Sessions are conducted weekly via video calls
  • Therapeutic Interventions: Techniques such as talking therapy, cognitive-behavioural therapy, help in addressing negative thought patterns. Help in understanding postnatal changes and the client’s specific circumstances aid in implementing mindfulness, breathing and regulation exercises to help manage anxiety and improve mood.
  • Regular Assessments: The counsellor continuously monitors the client’s progress through discussions and mood assessment tools.
  • Adjustments: Adjustments to the therapy approach or frequency of sessions are made based on the client’s progress and feedback.
  • Skill Building: The client learns skills to manage symptoms, including relaxation techniques, ways to regulate, structured problem-solving, and ways to improve sleep.
  • Supportive Counselling: The counsellor provides emotional support and may signpost to support groups or community resources. They might also work with the client on improving communication with family members to enhance support at home.
  • Review Goals: The counsellor and client review the initial goals to ensure they have been addressed.
  • Working Towards an Ending of Therapy: Strategies for maintaining mental health post-therapy are discussed, such as engaging in local mother’s groups, ongoing self-monitoring of mood, and preventive measures for potential future episodes.
  • Increasing gaps between session: Sessions may be scheduled with increasing gaps to ensure ongoing stability, address any new issues, and provide intermittent support as needed. This helps the client develop self confidence that they can manage their mood themselves.
  • Availability: The client is informed about how to access further help if symptoms reoccur or if new challenges arise.

Benefits of Postnatal Depression Counselling

Counselling provides a safe and confidential environment where all feelings are welcome. A counsellor offers empathy, validates a client’s feelings, and helps alleviate the stigma often associated with mental health struggles post-childbirth. This emotional support is crucial for healing.
Therapy sessions help clients develop effective coping strategies to manage the intense emotions and challenges associated with postnatal depression. Techniques might include mindfulness, stress management, reframing and relaxation practices, which can significantly improve daily functioning and overall well-being.
Postnatal depression can sometimes affect a mother’s ability to bond with her baby. Counsellors can provide strategies and guidance to strengthen this bond, enhancing both the mother’s and baby’s emotional health. Techniques can include bonding activities and addressing any anxieties related to parenting.
Counselling not only supports the individual but also offers benefits for the entire family. Through therapy, mothers can learn how to communicate their needs effectively, which can help improve relationships with partners and other family members, ensuring a more supportive home environment.
Regular counselling sessions can help in managing and reducing the symptoms of postnatal depression. By addressing the root causes and triggers of depression, therapy can lead to a noticeable decrease in symptoms such as sadness, anxiety, and fatigue, making day-to-day tasks more manageable.
By seeking timely help, women can prevent the escalation of postnatal depression into a more prolonged or severe depressive episode. Early intervention is key to preventing potential long-term psychological and emotional consequences for both the mother and the child.
Engaging in counselling can foster personal growth and increased self-awareness. Women often gain a deeper understanding of their emotions, behaviours, and responses, which can contribute to stronger and more resilient mental health.
If you are undecided about moving forward with counselling or have any queries, please do contact me to arrange a free initial 15 minute phone call.