Pregnancy is a major life transition that isn’t always met with excitement. For many, pregnancy can also come with a mix of uncertainties and challenges.
A cross-national study about pregnant and postpartum women indicates that their mental health problems were further added to by their fear of exposure to the COVID-19 virus amid the pandemic. The survey results across 64 countries reflected raised symptoms of post-traumatic stress at 43%, anxiety/depression at 31%, and loneliness at 54%.
Although being worried about your pregnancy is common, there can be significant health risks for you and your baby if mental health symptoms are not managed and your overall well-being is neglected. So pregnant mothers should consider seeking pre- and post-natal counseling and therapy during this important yet challenging period in their lives.
How Counseling and Therapy During Pregnancy Works
Essential prenatal care includes screening for possible complications, managing existing conditions like diabetes, and updating immunization and medication—so how exactly would counseling and therapy fit into this? Maryville University’s overview of mental health counseling outlines how licensed therapists, counselors, and psychologists can evaluate their client’s mental health and help them sort through their conflicting emotions and experiences through long-term support and treatment plans.
Besides counselors and psychologists, social workers can also work in mental health settings to support pregnant mothers. Their work can extend to helping mothers adjust to this life change and locating resources and support networks for their specific needs, for example, if they are in an abusive situation or come from low-income backgrounds.
Counseling and therapy can target many mental health issues that pregnant women typically experience. Some women struggle to cope with pregnancy-induced changes in their body, weight, and appearance, while others feel burdened with the pressure and expectations of being a ‘perfect’ mother.
Mood swings may also be expected during pregnancy, but some women remain depressed and anxious for a long time, which can negatively affect their sleep, appetite, and their child’s health.
As previously discussed in our article ‘Help! My Friend Is Pregnant and Thinking of Suicide,’ pregnant women can also have thoughts about harming themselves and the baby, especially when the pregnancy is unplanned. Aside from looking into other options like abortion and adoption, pregnant women thinking of suicide can receive compassionate and personalized care from mental health professionals.
Why Counseling and Therapy Should be Included in Your Medical Care
Provides additional support
While your family and friends might regularly check in on you and help you, the additional support from mental health professionals can help you understand and reduce the mood shifts, anxieties, and stress you are experiencing. Plus, talking one-on-one with a therapist can provide a safe and non-judgmental space to vent and talk about forbidden topics like shame and regret.
Pre- and post-natal counseling and therapy can provide you with tools and resources that can make a difference during pregnancy and after birth, such as healthy ways to cope, strategies for emotional regulation, and family/partner education.
Allows you to explore treatment options
Counseling and therapy can also work hand-in-hand with your ongoing medical care. A pregnant mother’s stress and anxiety levels can be linked to health and development problems for the baby. In a Journal of Women’s Health article about perinatal depression (PND), researchers explained how PND was associated with increased risks for delayed fetal development, premature birth, and low birth weight. Children whose mothers were diagnosed with PND faced developmental delays in terms of activity levels, facial expressions, attentiveness, and physiological changes.
Although counseling and therapy do not guarantee you won’t face mental health challenges in the future, early screening and acknowledgment allow you to explore treatment options ahead of time and integrate them into your overall care.
Your therapist may introduce you to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and extend it to your postpartum health plan. Meanwhile, medications like antidepressants are also a possible option to improve symptoms. Still, pregnant women should carefully discuss the potential risks and side effects with their doctor to ensure that medicating is the best route for them.
Post solely for the use of pregnancyhelponline.com By Tasha Mason