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Perinatal Therapy: What is it and Who needs it?

“You’ll be fine.”

“I know it’s hard, but it goes by so fast, treasure these moments.”

“You’ll miss the baby phase.”

“It’s not that bad, he/she is just a baby.”

“Awww newborns! I just love newborns! This phase is the best.”

Any of these sound familiar? Statements like these can be annoying to hear and inevitably bring on a wave of #momguilt because you just aren’t feeling that way. Maybe you are wishing time away. Maybe you don’t like babies very much, even though you love your child. Maybe you’re thinking, “No, I will not miss the baby phase.” Guess what… these are all valid thoughts, feelings, and beliefs!

During this season of life, a parent can experience a multitude of mental health disorders. It is nerve-wracking to bring a new baby into the world, especially if this is your first child. There is so much unknown, and there can be a steep learning curve when becoming a parent from the moment that pregnancy test comes back positive. Families now need to learn about breastfeeding, baby sleep patterns, what to feed the baby, how often to feed the baby, when to start solid foods, what medical concerns to watch for, and which baby items are necessary. Then, after the baby comes you spend a few days at the hospital and then they send you home with this little life that you are now totally responsible for. In the coming days, as your friends and family start to visit, you might realize how much you may be missing out on and start to mourn your freedom, or your life before parenthood. How could parents not experience some type of anxiety or depression? As is with any time we talk about mental health or development, there is a level that is not of concern and a level that is of concern.

Many parents, dads included, experience stress, anxiety, and depression when adding to the family. That is why WellNest Counseling offers Perinatal therapy. Let’s talk about what #perinataltherapy is and who benefits from it.

What is Perinatal therapy?

Perinatal therapy encapsulates a variety of mental health services offered from the time of conception to postpartum (after a baby is born). Therapists will work with parents who experience anything from the stress of a new life transition to more serious mental health disorders like bipolar disorder or psychosis.

Who can benefit from perinatal therapy?

Moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles… whoever is taking care of the baby. That’s right, you did read that correctly. I did say, “dads.” Dads are just as at risk as mothers for perinatal depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), bipolar disorder, and psychosis. Some new parents may not have ever even had a history of mental illness. Therefore, it is so important to speak up and ask for help. It is overwhelming to be both new to parenthood and #mentalhealth struggles.

What are some diagnoses involved in perinatal therapy?

Families in the perinatal phase of life might experience anxiety or depression. This is commonly called postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. However, several other ailments can affect perinatal families aside from depression and anxiety. Families can experience issues such as OCD, panic disorder, intrusive thoughts, bipolar disorder, and psychosis. Any of these diagnoses can occur during the pregnancy (prenatal) or after the baby is born (postpartum). What’s more, postpartum isn’t just that first 6-12 weeks after a baby is born. These diagnoses can occur at any time after the baby comes, with moms being especially at risk in the first year after pregnancy.

How does a perinatal therapy session differ from a regular talk therapy session?

There are a few key differences. The intake session will ask questions specific to the perinatal state. You will continue to work on healthy coping skills to manage your symptoms and the therapist may offer extra resources to support other needs like breastfeeding, psychiatric consultation, perinatal support groups, or sleep consulting.

At WellNest Counseling, we want to help your nest thrive from the start. So don’t hesitate to reach out and ask about our services. We offer individual therapy sessions and prenatal parenting classes!

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