How Psychotherapy is Beneficial for Pregnant Women

Pregnancy is a major change in the life of any women. The developed biological changes, especially some complications during pregnancy period and delivery, often develop a variety of psychological problems leading to mental disorders. Psychotherapeutic treatment during the pregnancy period is a great support for the woman to integrate self-representation and internal resources for preventing postnatal maternal stresses. Psychotherapy during pregnancy is safe as it doesn’t deliver any side effect on mother or fetus (Spinelli M, Endicott J, Leon A, Goetz RR, Kalish RB, Brustman LE. et al. A controlled clinical treatment trial of interpersonal psychotherapy for depressed pregnant women at 3 New York City sites. J. Clin. Psychiatry 2013; 74(4): 393–399).

Why Psychotherapy Is Required For Pregnant Woman:

Although pregnancy is experienced as a happy exciting period full of anticipation, yet some mental health disorders like anxiety and depression impact more than 15 to 20 % of pregnant women even after the smooth delivery. Worldwide about 10% of pregnant women and 13% of women with birth experience suffer from some kind of mental disorder, and depression is more common. The affected mothers can’t care the child as they should; therefore, the child’s growth and development is negatively affected. Evidences indicate that psychotherapy treatment of mothers, suffering from depression or anxiety, results in improved growth and fast development of newborn reducing the chances of malnutrition or diarrhea. The young infants also get affected because of being highly sensitive to the quality of care and the surrounding environment; their mental development is also affected by the mother’s mental disorder.

Who Are More Prone To Mental Disorders During Pregnancy?

Virtually all the pregnant women may have mental disorder of one or other type during pregnancy or after delivery; however, poverty, extreme stress because of professional and family responsibilities, migration, regular exposure to violence (sexual, gender-based, domestic), emergency situations, conflicts, natural disasters, absence of social support are the key contributors to specific disorders. What to do? Maternal mental health should be integrated into women’s health care and child health care.  

When Should You Seek A Psychotherapist? The Signs of Depression in Pregnancy:

If you experience the following symptoms for more than two weeks, it is time to approach trained psychotherapy: 

*Difficulty concentrating                       *Persistent sadness

*Sleeping too little or too much         *Loss of interest in activities

*Anxiety                                                      *Recurring thoughts of suicide, hopelessness, death

*Feelings of guilt/worthlessness       *Change in normal eating habits

Psychotherapy for Pregnant Woman:

There are many ways to treat mental disorders of a pregnant woman through psychotherapy without or with least medication.  Therapy helps the expectant mothers, women facing postpartum concerns, and husbands to deal with various issues caused by pregnancy or childbirth. Psychotherapy for a pregnant woman can be divided into two groups – prenatal counseling and postnatal counseling. 

*Prenatal Psychotherapy Counseling:

It provides a non-judgmental environment facilitating the women to share and express her emotions and pregnancy-associated fears with the confidence of being understood and safe. Mothers understand the relationship between their experience and that of their baby. The prenatal counseling is aimed to address/heal the identified psychological wound so that mothers could come out of stress and traumas with which they were suffering unconsciously. Mums also get support for their transition to a new identity. Prenatal counseling makes the pregnant woman stress free and prepared to welcome the baby with strong bonding. The prenatal counseling is commonly sought and highly effective for antenatal depression, feeling overwhelmed, unplanned pregnancy, coping with increased sensitivity, antenatal anxiety, previous prenatal loss, fear of birth, lack of bond with fetus etc.

Postnatal Psychotherapy Counseling:

During this phase of psychotherapy, mothers find a safe space to express “inconvenient” feelings that have after birth while behaving additional responsibilities (mother’s role) in a changing environment.  Psychotherapist helps the mother to find renewed resources within the self to deal with a new role with a boosted sense of adequacy and competence. Postnatal counseling facilitates a better relationship with the self, baby, husband, and relatives.

Concluding Note:

Suffering from maternity blues is a common disorder. The use of timely preventive measures is the only way to enjoy the pregnancy like a confident and happy mother. The integration of solution-focused and cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy programs, specially designed for prenatal care, is highly beneficial for improving the pregnant women’ mental health.

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