Pregnancy and Postpartum Support
Some research suggests that low stress during pregnancy has many benefits. The benefits to the mother include; delivery at full term, less complications, smoother delivery, and faster recovery. The benefits to the baby include; good temperament, less irritability, able to sooth easier, and sleeps better. Overall, a happier experience for mom and baby.
There are several factors that may cause a woman to be at risk for developing a mental health disorder during and/or after pregnancy. These factors range from family history, past mental health problems, infertility problems, history of miscarriage, and neurobiological changes during and after pregnancy. Postpartum mood disorders last longer than a couple of weeks and are more serious than the “baby blues,” which usually go away after a couple of weeks and cause mild symptoms.
What are Maternal Mental Health disorders?
Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders are a range of mood disorders that may encompass a variety of symptoms. These disorders can affect a woman during pregnancy, around the time of birth, and through the child’s first year.
You might experience a mixture of feelings, not limited to: anxiety, sadness, irritability, confusion, changes in eating and sleeping habits, feeling worthless, incompetent or inadequate as a mother, and sometimes even thoughts of harming the baby or yourself. These symptom last longer than a couple of weeks and are more severe than “baby blues”. Left untreated, these disorders lead to long-term negative effects on the mother, bonding difficulties, and detrimental outcomes in the development of the fetus, newborn, and developing child.
Types of Maternal Mental Health Disorders
A woman with PPD might experience feelings of anger, sadness, irritability, guilt, lack of interest in the baby, changes in eating and sleeping habits, trouble concentrating, thoughts of hopelessness and sometimes even thoughts of harming the baby or herself. In some cases, they feel emotionally detached from their infant and describe the sensation of going through the motions without an affectionate connection to their infant. They have powerful feelings of inadequacy, which in many cases, leaves new mothers unable to cope and/or terrified of being left alone with the baby, believing that they won’t know how to care for their crying infant. There are tremendous feelings of hopelessness, shame and guilt and sometimes a conviction that they should be replaced by another, more suitable mother. Learn more about PPD, including risk factors, symptoms and treatment options.
A woman with PPA may experience extreme worries and fears, often over the health and safety of the baby. Some women have panic attacks and might feel shortness of breath, chest pain, palpitations, dizziness, a feeling of losing control, and numbness and tingling. Learn more about PPA, including risk factors, symptoms and treatment options.
Women with PPOCD can have repetitive, upsetting and unwanted thoughts or mental images (obsessions), and sometimes they need to do certain things over and over (compulsions) to reduce the anxiety caused by those thoughts. These moms may experience scary and unusual intrusive thoughts including images of hurting their children, and are very unlikely to ever act on them. Much of the time, these obsessive behaviors revolve around checking, counting, and concerns about cleanliness and hygiene. Learn more about PPOCD, including risk factors, symptoms and treatment options.
Unexpected events during pregnancy or childbirth can be perceived as traumatic for some new mothers. For other mothers, the act of giving birth may be a traumatic reminder of earlier events in their lives, like sexual, physical or emotional abuse which leads to feelings of anxiety and the need to avoid things related to that event.
PPP sufferers sometimes see and hear voices or images that others can’t, called hallucinations. They may believe things that aren’t true and distrust those around them. They may also have periods of confusion and memory loss, engaging in erratic behavior, and having a disconnect from reality. This severe condition is dangerous so it is important to seek help immediately.
Although postpartum psychosis is rare, occurring in only 1-2% of births, it is a life-threatening medical emergency that necessitates immediate medical attention in order to safeguard the life of both mother and infant. A psychotic episode postpartum should never be confused with postpartum depression. It is NOT an extreme form of postpartum depression; it is an illness completely separate from other kinds of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders in that implies a break with reality. Infanticide is very rare amongst women with postpartum psychosis. It is important to recognize and respond to these symptoms promptly and thereby prevent tragedy. Learn more about PPP, including risk factors, symptoms and treatment options.
There are two phases of a bipolar mood disorder: the lows and the highs. The low time is clinically called depression, and the high is called mania or hypomania. Many women are diagnosed for the first time with bipolar depression or mania during pregnancy or postpartum. Bipolar mood disorder can appear as a severe depression; women need informed evaluation and follow-up on past and current mood changes and cycles to assess whether there is a bipolar dynamic. In Bipolar 2, the manic episode is less apparent; the highs and lows are not as extreme, and sometimes it is more apparent to friends and families than to the individual going through the phases. Learn more about bipolar mood disorders during pregnancy or postpartum.
Partner’s symptoms of anxiety and depression during the perinatal period can be very similar to a mother’s symptoms but are expressed differently. Symptoms include withdraw, avoidance, irritability, resentfulness, anger towards partner, feeling inadequate, feeling pressure with the new responsibility, low energy, lack of motivation, changes in weight and appetite or sleep, fear of not being a good parent, and memories of past traumatic life events. The consequences to the developing baby/child can be serious indeed if both parents are ill with perinatal mood disorders.
What You Should Expect from Us
At Authentic Journey, we can provide you and your family with support and education to get you through your prenatal and postnatal journey. An experienced therapist will provide you with the tools that you need to make this transition as smooth as possible.
We believe that being empowered helps you feel in control and more secure in your journey to parenthood. Studies have shown that the mother’s stress levels can have a significant impact the development of the baby. It is important to provide a calm and safe environment in which your baby can develop and thrive.
All services are provided following a holistic approach (whole person; physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual). We will also ensure that all services are culturally sensitive and tailored to your beliefs and desires.
Individual Sessions-50 minutes
Couples/Family Sessions-50 minutes