Postnatal counselling can help in many ways. About 1 in 3 women have significant depression/anxiety/stress that interferes with their ability to parent and develop lasting relationships.
The cause of postnatal distress is usually the combination of several factors. Areas commonly discussed in postnatal counselling include:
Low Social Support: With many Australians becoming more mobile, many women are alone or have little support during their baby’s first year. The decision to move where social support is better can be influenced by financial pressure, healthcare options, career options and living conditions. Low social support has been found to be one of the most reliable predictors of postnatal depression and mental health problems. Increasing social support can improve emotional health quite rapidly for many women.
Financial pressure: Many women have benefited from government funding for mothers with new babies. While many women will be able to make ends meet with the current levels of government funding, there are many others that need more than just a maternity bonus. Safe accommodation, medical expenses due to complications during the perinatal period, transport, family relationship breakdown and emotional supports are not always easy to find during pregnancy and after baby arrives.
Health Complications: The health complications that occur are varied and many women experience some challenge along the way. Morning sickness, miscarriage, baby’s size, wrong position for birth, blood pressure, premature birth, physical damage from birth, blood loss, birth trauma, reactions to medications and the baby’s health problems are all possible complications during the perinatal period. Talking about the health concern at length can sometimes help women to make adjustments to new limitations or pain or discomfort.
Past Trauma: About one in three women will describe their birth as being less than ideal and one in ten will experience overwhelming and negative emotions when in labour and birth. The women that experience severe emotional reactions to birth will often find it difficult to discuss their birth experience, especially if they have survived other traumas in their past such as sexual assault, domestic violence or emotional abuse. Talking about the birth at length (in postnatal counselling) can help.
Parenting Support: Parenting can be very daunting for new mothers. Parents can be left wondering what they have gotten themselves into! Sleep deprivation, feeding day and night, crying and settling issues, loss of couple intimacy, weight gain or loss (in mother or baby) … and the list goes on.
Every new mum has the marathon task of filtering all the advice given and most information provided is very biased by the person’s own experiences. Most new mums feel confused about working out what is best, given all the bad experiences of their friends and family. The changing rules about “what is best” is daunting for health professionals, let alone the average new mum. Anxiety can develop when parents try to follow every suggestion and find that they can’t do everything!
Finding the right balance of information and trial and error is the art of parenting each new child. No child is the same and most parents find it a surprise when their second child is nothing like the first. For most parents, the adjustment is to learning to adapt given a crisis, and learning about teamwork when parenting.
Couples Counselling: Given the number of couples with domestic violence issues, it can be very important to make decisions about safety sooner rather than later. Violence during pregnancy can cause life-threatening complications for women, who are especially vulnerable during this time in their lives. High levels of verbal abuse and conflict can impact the mother and baby’s health during pregnancy. Mothers with high levels of distress may be at risk of delivering a baby prematurely, or having complications during the birth if they feel unsafe or out of control.
NOTE: If you are pregnant or have a young child, please seek safety as a matter of urgency. Counselling can help couples who bicker from time to time and find each other difficult, but violence during pregnancy is never acceptable. If you are a woman at risk of violence call 1800 811 811 for women in Queensland.
For most couples, sitting down and planning to adapt can improve your enjoyment of parenting and each other. Postnatal counselling can be very helpful if started during pregnancy rather than after a couple has separated and hurtful events have occurred.
New parents face many new challenges and the good news is that most will have effective support and find a way through even if they have difficult days.
Please call the office on 1800 877 924 or book online if you feel you would benefit from postnatal counselling. Ask about our Free Emotional Health Checkup, a 30 minute, obligation-free consult with a senior therapists, designed to help you find the right therapist for your needs and budget.