Pregnancy is an incredible time of transition in our lives, whether this is your first pregnancy or you’re already a parent. There are many reasons why seeking emotional, psychological and social support can help you cope during pregnancy, as well as better prepare for your birth and postpartum.
Reasons to Seek Pregnancy Counselling
- If you’re pregnant you might find yourself dealing with increased stress for many reasons. For some, intimate relationships can feel strained at this time or conflict can emerge or intensify. There may be practical and financial concerns that can also increase stress.
- It’s also common for many women and men to feel afraid of birth. Sometimes this can be from hearing stories that portray birth as scary and as a medical emergency. However, the way maternity care systems are structured reinforce this story, and actually contribute to birth being unsafe (through high intervention rates, and not supporting normal birth). When we’re pregnant all of our beliefs that we’ve gathered throughout our life (our unconscious conditioning and imprinting) become activated. Pregnancy is the opportune time to unpack what is influencing you, so that these fears and beliefs don’t sabotage your decisions and how you navigate this important life phase.
- For others it may be that fears around parenting emerge during a pregnancy. This is often connected to wounding about how you might have been raised, and the desire to do things differently. Gentle parenting or more child-centered approaches to child raising are becoming more common, however for many generations child-raising has generally been more focused on suppressing feelings and creating obedient children so it’s likely that changing this imprint in your own parenting may require some additional support. You are probably the first in your lineage to break this cycle!
- Every human has experienced trauma. However, where you sit on the continuum of severity is unique to you. Whether you have experienced the trauma of being raised in a way that you felt unseen, unloved, or like it was unsafe to be yourself while growing up. Or whether you’ve experienced some of the common life events that can be more severely traumatic including, a previous traumatic birth, pregnancy loss, death of loved one, any kind of violence (including sexual assault or abuse), car accidents, bullying, or childhood abuse or neglect. Childhood or recent trauma can increase stress and overwhelm during pregnancy, birth and postpartum, making the need for additional support and counselling a priority.
- Perhaps you feel concerned about bonding with your unborn baby or have concerns if your pregnancy was unexpected. Or if you have experienced an assisted pregnancy, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) or intrauterine insemination (IUI), you might recognise that there are additional challenges psychologically, as well in your intimate relationship (if you’re partnered).
- Perhaps you’re feeling depressed, stressed, angry, anxious, crying a lot, feeling low, overwhelmed or like you’re not coping with day to day life. Depression and anxiety are alarmingly common. If you have experienced these or other mental health issues, either currently or historically then counselling during your pregnancy can support you to find ways to manage symptoms and find more ways to nourish yourself during this transition.
How Could Pregnancy Counselling Help You?
Working with a counsellor or therapist during your pregnancy can support you to find ways to feel more grounded and emotionally regulated. They can also help you to build your internal capacity to cope with stress. This can support you to feel more at ease, calmer, and more confident to navigate your birth and your postpartum journey.
Pregnancy counseling can also prepare you for being the parent you want to be by helping you integrate and heal from your own childhood imprints and trauma.
The truth is that learning not to suppress your feelings and needs is so important in parenting, and you will be modelling this for your children who are relying on you to help them regulate their own feelings. Stepping into your role as a loving, kind, present parent is the biggest gift you can give your child.
Matresence (the intensive physiological, psychological and social changes of becoming a mother) and the recognition that birth is a rite of passage needs to be reclaimed in our society. It’s actually a radical act to learn how to prioritise yourself and your own healing, in a world which upholds an unrealistic narrative of mothers as martyrs and where perfect mothering/super mothering is held up as the goal.
Birth as a rite of passage offers a deep opportunity to heal your wounding and to understand and reclaim your most authentic self.
Finding support and feeling held while you do this inner work helps you to have more personal freedom and power and to develop more compassion, which will be passed on to your children.
Finding the Right Therapist for You
If you think you would benefit from having psychological and mental health support during your pregnancy, then it’s so important that you find a therapist that is a good fit for you. Consider:
- Does the counsellor have particular expertise or lived experience that might benefit you?
- Do you feel at ease and safe with them? Do you feel you can trust them?
- Is there a match with the therapist’s approach, e.g., do they listen to your needs and goals as opposed to giving their agenda or advice?
- Do they value you as the expert in your life, and support you to find your own solutions?
- Does the psychologist or counsellor help you find resources in your community that could support you to build your village?
- Does the counsellor believe in your capacity to heal? Do you feel they support you to build your skills and capacity to cope?
- Does the counsellor or psychologist offer a clinical approach, diagnosis or advice about medication (and is that important to you)?
Wherever you’re at in your pregnancy, and however you’re feeling, know that you’re not alone and you deserve support too.