Wellbeing During Pregnancy & Parenthood
The journey towards parenthood begins as soon as people find out they are expecting a baby. From this moment a person’s life has, without a doubt, changed forever. The first few years of parenthood is often a particularly significant period of change and adjustment. Just like a baby undergoes the most rapid development in their first few years of life, this period of time can also reflect the period of most personal growth in an individual’s life too.
During pregnancy, expectant parents are focused on the changes in the mother’s body, the health of their growing baby, appointments with specialists, preparation for the nursery and birth plans. They daydream about who their baby will look like and the “kind” of baby he/she will be. In amongst all of this wonderment, some worries and doubts inevitably come up as well. Most women worry about the birth, breastfeeding and sleeping as well as how they’ll cope with motherhood. Men tend to be focused on supporting their partners, hope they are a good father and have some worry about finances. But either way, many people move through this period of their lives and “come out the other side” as parents who are completely besotted with their little one and only a little nervous and confused about the journey ahead.
However, this isn’t how it is for all women and men. For some there are many more bumps in the road during pregnancy or in the days, months or years after their little one has arrived. Women are particularly vulnerable during this period of their lives with 1 in 10 pregnant women experiencing depression during pregnancy and 1 in 7 experience postnatal depression in the months following the birth of the baby. Rates of postnatal anxiety are likely to be at least as high as in the perinatal period. We are also increasingly seeing symptoms of depression or anxiety in dads as well.
In addition to this, some women experience an extremely traumatic childbirth and are left struggling with symptoms that are often consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often these women suffer in silence and alone, believing that their feelings are ‘wrong’ or that they are ‘just being silly’. However, these beliefs delay women getting professional help and unfortunately, birth trauma is unlikely to resolve on its own. As such, it’s imperative that women seek the support of a psychologist with experience in the specific area of birth trauma.
I offer face to face consultations at my Wembley office which is based in the Baby Steps Health Centre. The Baby Steps Health Centre team include child health nurses, GP/obstetricians, lactation and sleep consultants, maternal physiotherapists, speech pathologists and dieticians. Together we provide care across all areas of early infant and toddler development and parenting. We are all committed to supporting new parents in their parenting journey. Our goal is to help you enjoy being a parent!
If you have obstetric issues impacting your pregnancy or recovery from childbirth or have experienced birth trauma, I can also work with you alongside my colleague Dr Leon Levitt. With both of us present, we are able to help you make sense of your medical/obstetric and psychological experiences. Dr Levitt can liaise with your Obstetrician to obtain a picture of the complications and medical interventions you experienced which enable him to help you understand what occurred. We know that this goes a long way to helping women process their traumatic birth experience. From there, you will work with one of our Clinical Psychologists to resolve the trauma symptoms you are experiencing.
If your GP or treating Psychiatrist prepares a Mental Health Care Plan, you can receive a Medicare rebate for up to 10 face-to-face sessions in a calendar year. You may also be able to receive a rebate through your private health fund if you have the appropriate cover.
I am often contacted by women asking if I can provide online therapy to which I respond with ‘yes’! However I must point out that you will not be able to receive a Medicare or Private Health Fund rebate for these services, even if you have a Mental Health Care Plan.
*In November 2017, Medicare will identify various regional communities that can access Medicare rebates for online psychological consultations.