The Perinatal Period is technically the time from the conception of a child, through pregnancy, birth and up to the time the new
baby is 12 months old. This lifecycle stage is particularly challenging both for the individual woman, her partner and the family as a whole. It is a time of incredible transition that impacts our sense of ourselves as individuals, partners and parents.
There are many factors that can influence this experience including but not limited to:
– Family mental health history
– Individual antenatal mental health history
– Circumstances around the conception and planning
– Emotional, financial, practical and social supports available
– Physical health
– The presence of and strength of the couple relationship
– Resilience and skills to manage change
– Previous trauma
– Tools for self care
– Additional life stressors
Coming to counselling during this time can be useful wherever you are at and whatever you are needing. It might be that you need some intensive emotional support or it may be you just need an “emotional check up” to “decompress”, take stock and debrief or you may be somewhere in between.
You may want to come in as an individual mum or dad, as a couple, as a family or invite in the sibling to a new family member.
It could be short term or long term counselling – weekly, fortnightly, monthly or more sporadic as you feel you need it.
There is no “rule” about the frequency of sessions or number of sessions.
What is known is that this transition into parenthood is a particularly intense time for all.
Having a child involves re-calibrating the way couple life works (when/if you are doing it as part of a pair). It involves creating some clearer, new agreements and understandings. For each of us as individuals it also involves re-calibrating how we
re-form our identity now that we are parents and balancing this new role alongside our sense of our “former (pre-baby) self.” It involves ideally working out a way to carve out some time for ourselves to be individuals, time for connecting with a partner (if they are present) and time in the parenting role.
Becoming a new parent and creating our own sense of family around a new baby can bring up lots of “stuff” about our own childhood, the way we were parented and the relationships we have (or don’t have) with our own families. As this stuff comes up, it can be important “grist for the mill” to work through in order to support ourselves to move into this new parenting role with a clear heart and deeper understanding about ourselves.
Counselling can also be a great opportunity also to talk about the “dark side” of being a new parent and get some support.
Gosh babies might be cute and lovely (to some/some of the time), but sometimes we can all grapple with thoughts and feelings about parenting that are fairly unsexy, uninspiring, boring, dull, concerning, painful, distressing, sad, traumatic and/or plain awful.
Having some private space in the counselling room gives you permission to talk about all the tough stuff – the things you don’t enjoy, struggle with or have been reminded of regarding being a parent. Doing so can lighten the emotional load, lessen the sense of isolation and support you towards more growth, healing and a greater sense of wellbeing.