When to start birth trauma counselling
Psychological support is available at any point in your pregnancy journey.
Therapy isn’t just for the rock bottom times. In fact, the best time to start counselling, is before you need it. This is also true for birth – and across your entire perinatal time from pre-conception, all the way through postpartum.
I say this as a specialist perinatal and trauma counsellor who kept my own struggles around birth to myself, for 7 years!
In 2007 I became a mother for the first time. As a new mother, I was experiencing signs of postnatal depression, anxiety and trauma, which for years went unrecognised and unacknowledged. I didn’t feel myself, so I had no idea who I was.
I felt incredibly lonely and although I craved connection, I found myself moving away and retreating from others. The disconnect from others, and from myself, was screaming loudly.
I didn’t want to be alone with my baby. I felt like I was the only one who was struggling with the whirlwind of what I was feeling… one minute overwhelmed, the next numb.
I couldn’t articulate any of this to anyone… even to myself. So I put on a mask and carried on. I buried it all for years under the guise of a successful business… Funnily enough, one where I was witnessing other mothers moving through the same motions, facing the same struggles.
Roll into this multiple pregnancy losses, secondary infertility, IVF, birth trauma and breastfeeding trauma…
I felt broken. It wasn’t long before it started seeping out into other areas of my life, including my relationship with my husband. Looking back now, I can see it had its impact from the beginning, but I did my best to mask that too.
I knew that I wanted more. By seeking out support, the puzzle pieces of my experiences started to come together, and I could finally begin to process them and move through the other side, whole again. Me again.
Seeking out support when we’re already hurting is tough. Starting a conversation and building a relationship with a therapist BEFORE we feel like we really need them can make a big difference to our wellbeing.
Over the years supporting many women and their families through birth and perinatal trauma resolution, what I know to be true is this:
The idea that therapy is only for severe situations is a myth. You don’t need a diagnosis or to be at rock bottom for therapy to be a powerful and effective resource in your life.
Waiting until situations reach their lowest point may unnecessarily prolong your suffering. On the flipside, early engagement is a proactive step towards protecting and bolstering your emotional and psychological wellbeing, and preparing for life changes before they happen.
This gives you time to form a relationship with your counsellor, who will support you throughout your pregnancy.
Starting counselling during pregnancy provides a safe and confidential space to discuss your expectations, fears, hopes, and the evolving dynamics of transitioning into parenthood.
What are the benefits of starting birth trauma counselling early?
There are many benefits to starting therapy sooner rather than later.
Planning for upcoming challenges becomes a collaborative effort between you, your partner, and your therapist. This preparation can boost your resilience, provide coping strategies to navigate the upcoming changes, as well as the ups and downs of life postpartum.
Early therapy is also a preventive approach that can reduce symptoms before they worsen. By identifying and addressing concerns when they arise, we can prevent any snowballing that may lead to more significant challenges.
Another benefit many find from starting therapy early, is avoiding the grief of missed time, and special moments that are lost when we struggle for too long.
When mental health struggles are left untreated, we can find ourselves looking back with regret at the moments lost to the fog of these experiences.
Starting therapy early on in your postpartum journey, gives you access to the resources and support for a more present and engaged experience of your transition through birth and into early parenthood.
The decision of when to start therapy after birth is a deeply personal one. And, it’s completely okay to start therapy before you feel you need it – in fact, the benefits of doing so can be life-changing.
The misconception that therapy is only for crises or rock-bottom times can leave us waiting too long to seek support, and experiencing more suffering than is necessary.
Starting therapy early is a step towards a more resilient, connected and fulfilling experience throughout your perinatal journey.
If you’re interested in counselling, you can learn more about individual perinatal and trauma counselling here, couples counselling here, or get in touch via the link below. I would love to support you to process your experience of health anxiety.