Get a Therapist Early

By: Jennifer Cole | Pregnancy | May 31, 2021

If you’re currently pregnant, you’ve probably already heard about postpartum depression. It’s a widely talked about mood disorder that affects birthing people in the days and weeks following giving birth to their baby. After you have your baby, your care provider will normally ask you screening questions related to this condition to ensure that you seek professional treatment right away if you’re experiencing symptoms beyond the normal “baby blues”. 

But did you know that mood disorders can also occur during pregnancy? It’s estimated that 15-21% of birthing people experience moderate to severe symptoms of depression or anxiety while pregnant. Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMAD) is a term assigned to cover the period of pregnancy through the first year after a baby is born. 

By definition, PMADs require professional mental treatment. If you’ve suffered from depression or anxiety in the past, you may have a higher likelihood of experiencing a PMAD while you’re pregnant or within the postpartum period.

This is why it’s never too early to find a good therapist. If you’re pregnant, or thinking about getting pregnant, you should consider seeking out a good therapist now so that in the event you experience any depression or anxiety while pregnant or after baby arrives, you’ll be prepared for whatever may happen.  

Pregnancy and childbirth can bring up a lot of unprocessed emotion within us. If you’re feeling fearful giving birth or raising a child, it may be the result of a previous trauma that you’ve never fully examined or a problematic familial relationship. Working with a therapist to overcome these unresolved issues is a way to gain clarity about what you’re feeling, why you’re feeling it, and how to move forward in a positive direction. Doing so proactively can be a way to prevent a more onset of anxiety or depression later on. 

And here’s an added bonus: by releasing fear before giving birth, you’re also improving your odds of having a smoother labor and childbirth experience.

While there’s no saying that you’ll encounter any problems at all, it’s always possible that you might struggle during or after pregnancy. Once baby’s here, there’s lack of both sleep and time and that last thing you’ll want to be figuring out is tracking down a therapist. So having one lined up ahead of time is your best backup plan for the “just in case” scenario.

The best way to find a good therapist in your area is always by word of mouth. Start with asking other birthing people you know if they can recommend someone. Your care providers are also a good resource for referrals. Your doula or midwife will probably know a quality therapist who specializes in maternal mental health and treating PMADs. Ideally if you think you might need or want a therapist in your postpartum, it’s great if you’ve had the chance to have a session or two with them before baby arrives so you can build rapport and know each other ahead of time.  

If you’re not feeling emotionally well at any point in your pre or postpartum period, never put off getting help. The good news about PMADs is that they are all treatable. The sooner you seek out treatment, the sooner you can resolve the issues that may be impacting you (and potentially your bond with your baby) and start feeling better.

Resources:

https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/mental-health-conditions/postpartum-depression

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About the author:
Jennifer Cole CD(DONA) DONA Certified Birth Doula and Hypnobabies Certified HypnoDoula supporting families throughout San Diego County.

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