When the baby isn’t sleeping (and so you aren’t, either), the laundry is piling up, and you haven’t even washed your hair in who-knows-how-long, the idea of making a counselling appointment can feel like one more chore on the to-do list. Even though something hasn’t felt quite right since your baby was born, it might feel daunting and exhausting to think about finding the time and energy to connect with a therapist.
But maybe part of you is still wondering if it might help in some way to get some professional support, if there might be a way to work through what you’re feeling. If you’re on the fence and looking for some ideas of how postpartum or maternal mental health therapy might be able to help, read on for 6 benefits of investing in your mental health in the early years of parenthood:
1. Get support during a difficult and often isolating season of life.
It’s probably not a too big of a shocker, but having a baby triggers a lot of life changes. Relationships may shift as you no longer have the same time, energy, and resources to engage with your circle in the same way, and for a lot of people (especially those having babies during Covid-19) the postpartum period can be a very isolating time. Opportunities for socializing may be fewer, friendships may fizzle, and symptoms of anxiety, depression, and postpartum stress may make it hard to open up and genuinely connect with others. Meeting with a maternal mental health therapist can help you to get the emotional support you need and give you a safe place to share about all the parts of motherhood that nobody really talks about at play-group.
2. Find out what’s normal and what’s not with postpartum & maternal mental health.
It can be tough to figure out if what you’re feeling is normal after you’ve had a baby. You probably expected to feel exhausted, a little (a lot?) overwhelmed, and weepy after the baby arrives, but you might be wondering if things were supposed to be this hard, or if you might have something more than the “baby blues” going on (hint: if it’s been more than 3 weeks since you’ve had your baby, it’s not the “baby blues”). Checking in with a maternal mental health specialist can help you figure out where you’re at with your mental health, pinpoint what’s going well and what isn’t, and get you on the path to wellness.
3. Identify problem areas and get support finding solutions.
Looking after a baby or young child takes a lot of time and energy. Their needs tend to come first, and we often find ourselves overwhelmed with just trying to make it through each day. It’s not uncommon for parents to find themselves falling through the cracks of parenthood, and wondering where along the way they lost sight of their needs, wants, and goals. Working with a maternal mental health therapist can help you to slow it all down and take some well-deserved time for yourself to work on identifying and solving the problem areas that are keeping you stuck.
4. Treat symptoms of anxiety and depression to live a more fulfilled and present life.
The postpartum period is a time of transition and adjustment. It’s normal to experience some stress and to need some time to process and adapt to the huge life change you’ve just experienced. But for about 1 in 5 women, this is also a time where symptoms of a mood and/or anxiety disorder present themselves, affecting their ability to care for themselves, bond with their baby, and find enjoyment or fulfillment in this time of life. Fortunately, treatment is available and effective, and with help, you will feel like yourself again. Maternal mental health therapy helps parents to work through their symptoms of depression or anxiety and find the support they need to make the most of this challenging season of life.
5) Improve the relationships with yourself, your partner, and your child(ren).
The demands of early parenthood can put a big strain on your personal connections with people; how you see yourself and others often shifts dramatically, and without attention, cracks can form in even the best of relationships. For couples, research has shown that the first year after having a baby is one of the hardest on a couple’s relationship. Working with a maternal mental health therapist can help you to identify problematic relationship patterns, advocate for your needs and learn to balance them with the needs of your family, learn to communicate effectively, and proactively plan to manage the demands of early parenthood.
6) Figure out motherhood on your own terms and parent from a place of confidence and intention.
Modern motherhood presents challenges that the generations before us never encountered. The internet and social media have given us access to a wealth of helpful information to help guide our decision-making, but it also means that we’re exposed to a constant stream of social and cultural narratives and expectations that can make us feel like we’re failing at every step. Toxic maternal social expectations like: needing to “cherish every minute”; always putting our child’s needs ahead of our own; needing to always love being a mother and never needing or wanting outside interests or roles; and feeling that the bulk of the mental and physical load of parenting should fall on mothers’ shoulders, can exacerbate symptoms of anxiety and depression and further isolate us from ourselves and others. A maternal mental health therapist can help you to define motherhood on your own terms, balance your needs, wants, and goals with the demands of parenthood, and show up for your children with confidence and intentionality.
If you’re still wondering if maternal mental health therapy might be able to help you and would like to chat about your specific situation, or if you’d like to get started on your own journey to maternal wellness, call me at 604-785-9511 or email me at [email protected].