Pregnancy & Postpartum Counseling
Pregnancy is a Time of Change
Huge changes are happening in your life during a pregnancy and the postpartum period. Overwhelming physical and hormonal changes are a given. These are combined with not getting enough sleep and all kinds of new responsibilities. You want this to be a time of great joy and excitement. However, many women are surprised by how many different emotions they feel.
Pregnancy is the start of a major change in a woman’s life. Therefore, it makes sense that a pregnant mom may require some extra support. For some women, pregnancy can be a time of great anxiety. This can be especially true for those who previously experienced infertility or loss, or who are experiencing prenatal medical complications. Pregnancy can also bring up old memories and feelings from your past. Some women have feelings of sadness or depression. Getting help for these issues during pregnancy can help you and your baby prenatally. In addition, counseling during pregnancy can often help reduce the chance of problems in the post-partum period.
Being a New Mom is Hard
After having a baby, many women struggle with identity shifts and attachment concerns. It’s common to feel a loss of independence, relationship changes, isolation, questions about returning to work, body image issues, and a wide range of emotional highs and lows. New moms need to feel supported during this time. As a therapist specializing in women’s mental health, I am here to help with these and other complicated issues that often accompany the transition to parenthood.
Many new mothers (1 in 7) will suffer from a postpartum mood or anxiety disorder within a year of giving birth. Often, women who experience postpartum mood disorders are aware that something is wrong. However, postpartum depression or anxiety symptoms often leave them feeling ashamed, confused, and alone. As an expert in perinatal mental health, I will partner with you to understand your experience and to help you feel better quickly. I treat a wide range of reproductive mental health issues that develop during and after pregnancy, including depression, generalized anxiety, obsession compulsive disorder, panic disorder, and post traumatic stress disorder. These disorders are very treatable and with help, you can feel well again.
Common risk factors for developing a postpartum mood or anxiety disorder include:
- Prior history of depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder
- Sensitivity to hormonal changes (history of PMS)
- Cumulative sleep deprivation
- Conception following infertility treatments
- Difficult pregnancy or traumatic birth
- Breastfeeding difficulties
- Lack of support
- Relationship problems
- Other life stressors
Common symptoms of Postpartum Depression:
- Feeling sad, depressed, and/or crying a lot
- Loss of interest in usual activities
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or incompetence
- Fatigue, irritability, sleep disturbance
- Change in appetite
- Poor concentration
- Feeling inadequate to cope with the new infant
- Suicidal thoughts
Postpartum Anxiety Symptoms
- Intense anxiety; rumination, obsessions
- Panic attacks
- Desire for perfectionism
- Excessive worry about baby’s health
- Repeated thoughts or images of frightening things happening to the baby
Postpartum Counseling Can Help
You want nothing more than to bond with your new baby. This should be a happy time in your life. You want to enjoy soaking up every minute. Yet, sometimes this feels more like a dark period in your life. You are filled with anxiety or sadness that you can’t even fully explain. It can feel lonely.
The good news is that counseling can help. Counseling can be a very effective treatment for postpartum depression & anxiety. I have worked with other new moms who felt overwhelmed by the transition of brining a new little one home. There are unique stressors that come during the perinatal/postpartum period. A therapist who specializes in maternal mental health can help. Every day women get better after even severe postpartum depression & anxiety. You can too. Through counseling, you can process your emotions, develop new coping strategies and begin to connect with your new baby.
Dads and Perinatal Distress:
Dads can also suffer during the perinatal period. In fact, research shows that 1 in 10 dads feel depressed, and up to 18% develop a clinically significant anxiety disorder at some point during the pregnancy or the first year postpartum. Like women, men who have struggled with mental health issues in the past, who have significant life stressors, and who are dealing with relationship concerns are at higher risk for anxiety or depression after the birth of a baby. In addition, feeling excluded from the mother-infant bond in an additional risk factor for men.
In my practice, I work with dad’s who do not feel like themselves during their partner’s pregnancy and following birth. Like mothers, dad’s who seek treatment can feel better, and can more fully embrace life, parenthood, and their relationship with their partner.
Couples in the Perinatal Period:
Regardless or whether you or your partner feels anxious or depressed, as a couple, you may experience shifts in your relationship during pregnancy and the transition to parenthood. With all of the stresses new parents face, it is not surprising that many couples say they feel less connected and less happy in their marriage or relationship right after having a baby. Couples counseling offers new parents tools. Through counseling, couples work through their difficulties and strengthen their relationship even in the postpartum period. In couples counseling, I provide these tools and help parents develop ways to stay connected and strong as they navigate the new world of parenthood.
Counseling Support for New Parents in Lafayette, CA
You don’t have to struggle alone with feelings sadness, depression and emotional highs and lows after giving birth. Counseling can help you cope with stress that can come up during the pregnancy, perinatal or postpartum period. Whether you are looking for counseling for yourself as a new mother or father or you feel like you and your partner could benefit from relationship counseling, I can help. As a women’s mental health expert, I help women (and dads) thrive at my Lafayette, CA counseling clinic. Please contact me today. I know it can be difficult to reach out for help. However, therapy can help. You deserve support during this time of transition. Please know that you are not alone. Help is available and you will get better.
Other Women’s Mental Health Services
In addition to counseling for pregnancy and postpartum health, I offer a variety of other mental health services as well. I want to help every woman thrive. Other services available include wellness coaching, individual therapy, couples and marriage counseling for new parents, support groups for new moms & pregnant women. I offer individual counseling for women with Trauma using EMDR, counseling for childbirth concerns, infertility, perinatal loss, and Moms with NICU babies.