Pregnancy, Birth and Motherhood

The thunderbolt of parenthood

Sarah Hanison Psychotherapy. Image of a tired mother with a pramPregnancy, birth and motherhood aren’t always the joy and wonder we are led to believe, certainly not in the initial stages. The huge change. The sleepless nights. Every minute, every second our focus directed upon our new child.

It can be exceptionally tough for a first time mother, and new mothers who have other dependants to look after. And aside from NCT groups, and mother and baby/toddler groups, other support systems might be hard to come by, especially with families living distances apart.

With the thunderbolt of pregnancy and birth, the shock of adjusting to motherhood, especially if this is your first child, you might find you feel out of control, afraid even, particularly if you enjoyed many independent years before the new arrival. You had control, you knew who you were and with the arrival of a new baby you might find this now old image of yourself shattered and blown away.

So who are you now?

As a new mother you might find yourself thrown into a kind of identity crisis. You and the baby are one, there’s no time for you, there’s no time for you and your partner (if you have one), and you begin to lose a sense of who you are. And yet you try your best, try your very best to be the best mum you can, but find you’re not measuring up, not living up to the expectations you’d set yourself, not ‘the perfect mum’ you hoped you would be.

You might feel your whole life has been reduced to looking after the baby, this thing that continually demands your attention. And you might be on your own, a single parent, or simply isolated with little support, or living with an abusive partner.

And all this, the pressure of a new infant, could lead to illness.

You might already suspect something is wrong. You can’t get out of bed. You’re constantly crying. You’re shouting at your partner. You don’t want to go anywhere near the cot, change a nappy. You feel rage, murderous feelings.

And then the shame.

Well meaning people might tell you to forget the birth and focus on your beautiful new baby instead. But you can’t stop feeling this intense anxiety and a strange sense of not being in yourself.  Intrusive thoughts invade your head. Memories of the birth. Thoughts of your baby in terrible danger. Forgotten, painful images from the past, re-triggered by the rigours of the birth.

How I work with pregnancy, birth and post birth issues

Although the clinically observed descriptions are depression and PTSD (post- traumatic stress disorder), I like to use the term pre/post natal illness. Often the presenting symptoms are a mix of both depression and trauma, and a woman may very well identify with both. Having said that, labels can be very useful in helping the sufferer identify and understand their experience – ah, so this is what’s happening to me…

Counselling and psychotherapy with pregnant and post birth women is gentle and highly respectful work, especially regarding the body. During pregnancy, a woman might feel particularly vulnerable and self-conscious about her changing body and sexuality, or even experience a sense of feeling invaded by her growing baby and a loss of control.

Post birth, and particularly if the birth was traumatic, a new mother might feel numb, shut down, detached from her body, or even abused by the treatment she received from medical staff. So a deep respect of personal boundary is immensely important so that a woman may grow to feel comfortable with herself and in control of her body again – the yes and no of what feels right and safe for you.

Birth trauma therapy

To help heal and gently clear the traumatic symptoms, change the experience of the birthing process and improve the relationship and bonding process with a new born baby and older children I use Matrix Birth Reimprinting with Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT).

We can work in a variety of ways depending upon your circumstances.

  • Voice or video call via online therapy.
  • In person session, and please bring your baby if you have difficulty with child care.

Please see here for booking details.

Please also see my helplines and resources page for further support.