Click *here* to read about my weekly psychotherapy group for women exploring all things related to pregnancy and motherhood.
Whether you are experiencing difficulty with fertility, ambivalence about becoming a parent, pre-natal or post-natal mental distress, talking therapy can help. I have many years of experience working with people who are experiencing difficulties around issues of parenthood. I work with both men and women who are having difficulty getting pregnant, are going through assisted conception, have experienced miscarriage or bereavement, or are experiencing ambivalence about whether they want to become a parent.
If you are a woman struggling with poor mental health in relation to issues of motherhood, you are not alone. Up to 20% of women suffer mental ill-health in the first year after the birth of a child (Public Health England, 2017). A traumatic birth, lack of sleep, feeding difficulties, lack of support and isolation, and pressure on your relationships can all contribute to feelings of overwhelm and sadness. These feelings are not uncommon and they may be transient, but if you feel you are not able to cope, or you feel not-yourself, it may be time to seek help.
Additionally, society and culture assumes that women will automatically know how to be a mother and that they will enjoy the job of mothering. These assumptions do women a huge disservice because they are misleading. It is natural to feel unsure of what you are doing in any new role; motherhood is no different. It is also OK to not enjoy the demanding work of being a mother. The assumptions imposed by social and cultural pressures can lead women to feel not good enough and alone.
Sometimes my clients simply need a non-judgemental and supportive space in which to express their experience of motherhood, or their relationship difficulties after becoming a mother. Sometimes parenthood can stir deeper emotional traumas that can manifest in a multitude of emotional and physical responses. Research is beginning to show how much a woman’s experience of motherhood is shaped by her own early experience of being mothered.
Talking therapy provides a space for women to explore their experience of being a mother and what may be triggered from their own infancy or childhood.
Mental distress related to being a parent also affects men. Becoming a father can be a very vulnerable time and 10% of men experience depression in the pre-natal period during their partner’s pregnancy. Again, the lack of social support and cultural narratives can exacerbate what is already a difficult and stressful time. Distress around these issues can also affect other members of the family and support network and I have worked with men and women of all ages in response to issues triggered by conception and birth.
Difficulties when trying to conceive can raise stressors that affect you and your relationships. Going through assisted conception can be a turbulent time and trigger a range of emotions that are hard to process. Whether you need a space to explore your own thoughts and feelings, or whether you need support as a couple, talking therapy can provide a stable anchor at a time when you feel most out of control.