Pregnancy is often regarded with excitement, but no matter how eagerly a child's birth is anticipated, stress and other forms of emotional distress are still likely to occur during the challenging period of pregnancy.
Pregnancy issues may be mild or serious; they can affect the health of the mother or child, put strain on a romantic partnership and lead to significant life changes, both predicted and unpredictable.
If you have had mental health problems in the past, you are more likely to become ill during pregnancy or in the first year after giving birth. This may not necessarily happen to you, everyone can have different triggers for becoming unwell.
Perinatal depression can cause significant suffering in women, at a time when personal or societal notions of motherhood are seen as being uniquely joyful. This may be incongruous with the depressed woman’s ability to feel gratification in the mothering role, connect with her infant, or carry out the often overwhelming tasks of caring for a new baby.
Emotional signs of perinatal/postnatal depression may include:
- loss of interest in the baby
- feelings of hopelessness
- not being able to stop crying
- feelings of not being able to cope
- not being able to enjoy anything
- memory loss or being unable to concentrate
- excessive anxiety about the baby
Other signs may include:
- panic attacks
- extreme tiredness
- aches and pains
- feeling generally unwell
- loss of appetite
However, there are all kinds of help you can access, so don’t be afraid to talk about how you are feeling with your healthcare professionals.
How can Clinical Psychology help?
During pregnancy the psychologist can help expectant moms mitigate some of the stress and express their concerns or anxieties about becoming a parent; it can provide a non-judgmental and supportive sounding board, where new moms can talk openly about forbidden topics, such as fear and regret.
Post pregnancy – there are several therapeutic approaches that are effective in helping to overcome any difficulties you may be experiencing after the birth of your child. One such approach is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
This is a type of therapy based on the idea that unhelpful and unrealistic thinking leads to negative behaviour. CBT aims to break this cycle and find new ways of thinking that can help you behave in a more positive way. For example, some women have unrealistic expectations about what being a mum is like and feel they should never make mistakes. As part of CBT, you’ll be encouraged to see that these thoughts are unhelpful and discuss ways to think more positively.
If you want to make an appointment to see Dr Deborah Walton, Chartered Clinical Psychologist, please contact Kingsbridge Private Hospital on 028 9066 7878 or mention it to your healthcare professional.
Getting the right support at the right time is very important.