The journey to motherhood is often portrayed as a joyous and fulfilling experience. However, for many mums, this period can be fraught with emotional challenges, especially when a decline in postnatal mental health casts its shadow over what should be a time of celebration. It's thought that up to 30% of new mums struggle with this. Then there is postnatal depression which affects approximately 10-15% of UK women, leaving them overwhelmed, anxious, and isolated. In this blog, we will explore how counselling can be a beacon of hope, offering a safe space and effective tools to help mums navigate the turbulent waters of postnatal mental health and regain their emotional well-being.
1. Understanding the postnatal mental health:
Counselling can increase your awareness of factors that affect your postnatal mental health. Although those factors will be different for everyone, this awareness equips you with the same message: struggling is not a sign of weakness or inadequacy as a mother. If you have ever had the thought that you are not good enough, you should know that struggling with the journey into motherhood (matrescence) is the result of a complex interplay of hormonal changes, genetic predisposition, and psychosocial factors (such as past experiences, your support system, birth trauma etc). The symptoms you experience might include feelings of sadness, fatigue, loss of interest, guilt, anxiety, and a sense of detachment from your baby. Counselling offers you the chance to understand and explore both the factors that led you to this point and explore your feelings so you can start to break free from those that are holding you back.
2. Breaking the Silence:
One of the major hurdles for mums dealing with postnatal mental health is the stigma surrounding mental health issues. You may feel hesitant to open up about your struggles due to fear of judgment or being labelled as an inadequate parent. Counselling provides a safe and non-judgmental environment where you can express your feelings without fear, paving the way for healing and emotional growth. Your counsellor is not in your social circle, they won't gossip or talk about you behind your back, they are there solely for you and only you. Sometimes it is easier to open up to someone who has already declared that you will receive no judgement, someone you don’t know in your social circle and someone you know has the skills and qualifications to help you.
3. Validating Emotions and Experiences:
Counselling acknowledges and validates your emotions, reassuring you that your feelings are real and understandable. The process helps you recognise that you are not alone in your journey and that seeking help is a courageous step towards recovery. This can be a powerful part of counselling. So often we beat ourselves up for how we feel, and think we 'should' be doing better when actually feeling as you do is perfectly natural.
4. Unravelling Underlying Issues:
Struggling with postnatal mental health can often be intertwined with unresolved issues from the past or difficulties adjusting to the new role of motherhood. Having a baby is a time you feel most vulnerable, and this can be why unresolved issues start to surface. Counselling delves into the root causes of depression, helping you explore your thoughts and feelings in a supportive and guided manner. Understanding the underlying issues can empower you to break free from the conflicting thoughts and overwhelming emotions and develop healthy coping mechanisms.
5. Building Coping Skills:
Counselling equips you with practical coping skills to handle the challenges of motherhood and postnatal mental health. Techniques such as mindfulness, relaxation exercises, thought reframing and self-compassion are effective in managing anxiety, intrusive thoughts and overwhelm, allowing you to regain a sense of control over your emotions.
6. Enhancing Support Systems:
A strong support system is vital if you are struggling with your postnatal mental health. Counselling assists you in identifying and nurturing your support networks, whether it's through friends, family, or support groups. Connecting with others who have experienced similar challenges fosters a sense of belonging and understanding, reducing feelings of isolation. Counselling can also help you identify relationships that aren't working for you and give you the confidence and self esteem to communicate your needs so that changes.
7. Strengthening Mother-Child Bond:
Struggling with your mental health can take it's toll on you and so its understandable if you feel the impact of it in your relationship with your little one. If this has crossed your mind you might feel guilty and inadequate. If this has led you to think you don’t love your baby or you sometimes feel like walking away and not being a mother anymore, counselling can help you reconnect, both with yourself and your baby so that you can develop a nurturing and positive relationship. This helps to promote secure attachment and emotional well-being for both you and your child.
Struggling with your postnatal mental health can cast a shadow on the experience of motherhood. However, it is essential to remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and counselling serves as a powerful tool to guide you towards recovery.
Seeking help is a sign of strength and resilience, and you deserve the chance to reclaim your happiness and well-being.
Counsellor in Harrogate and Online
Claire Judd is a fully qualified counsellor in Harrogate, working with mums and their postnatal mental health. If you’re struggling, get in touch for a free 15 min call to find out how we can work together. You can book online here: https://www.clairejudd.co.uk/contact and can find out more about counselling for postnatal mental health here: www.clairejudd.co.uk.
Follow @therapy.for.mums on instagram for information, tips and advice.