What to Expect from Psychotherapy When You’re Expecting or Postpartum

Couple relaxing in sun outside.
Photo courtesy of Ariane Hunter, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

The perinatal period, or the time leading up to and following labor and delivery, is often hallmarked by uncertainty. In addition to joy and hope, fear and anxiety are frequent companions on the road to motherhood. You might find yourself wondering: How can I take care of my mental health while pregnant and postpartum? What are signs and symptoms of distress that I should not ignore? What helpful resources and services should I be aware of as I navigate my transition to parenthood? These are just some of the many great questions psychotherapy clients ask as they become parents.

Big questions have the potential to feel overwhelming, especially if you are already in the vulnerable stages of a life transition. Like most things in life, when it comes to taking care of our mental and emotional health, we don’t know what we don’t know. Engaging in psychotherapy is intended to be a safe source of support, but if you have never participated in psychotherapy before, it can be scary to begin.

The Pregnancy and Postpartum Mental Health Guide is designed to demystify psychotherapy for the expecting and new parent and empower you to make the choices that feel right for you. In this guide, we cover:

  • Themes of change during the perinatal period
  • Skills for tolerating inevitable discomfort and/or distress
  • Useful guides to prepare for pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum
  • Relevant information about Perinatal Mood or Anxiety Disorders (PMADS)
  • Options for psychotherapy in detail
  • What psychotherapy during the perinatal period entails

Depending on your current needs, there are several options available for psychotherapy. Outpatient psychotherapy entails meeting with your therapist usually one time per week for 45-60 minutes. Support groups are typically led by a mental health professional, however are not psychotherapy treatment. Instead, support groups are designed to help you connect with others who are going through similar experiences. Reproductive psychiatrists can help determine if medication is a helpful option to consider. There are also programs that provide more support and structure including programming that ranges from 15 hours/week to 24/7 wrap around care.

Our hope is that the Pregnancy and Postpartum Mental Health Guide sheds light on answers to the big questions you have and helps you discover how to find the support and resources available. We wrote it with you in mind to give you accurate, no-nonsense information about mental health during pregnancy and in the postpartum period, highlight the importance of mental health care for all, not just in times of crisis, and to help you feel less alone. You don’t have to go searching for your village, it is all around you. Psychotherapy during pregnancy and postpartum helps you figure out who is in that village, determine who you want to enlist, and how to go about doing so.

Pregnancy & beyond 8-week series graphic Looking for other opportunities to learn more about pregnancy and postpartum mental health? Join Wildflower’s Eden Himidian, LCSW, PMH-C, RYT on January 28 for her workshop on pregnancy and postpartum mental health! Eden’s workshop will be a part of an expert-guided series for expecting parents coordinated by Chicago Family Doulas from January 14 – March 4 at Monica + Andy in Lincoln Park. You can find more information on the Monica + Andy website.

Wildflower Center for Emotional Health is a psychotherapy practice with offices in Illinois (River North/Chicago and Oak Park) and Colorado (Boulder). We offer in-person and teletherapy mental health services. We specialize in perinatal and reproductive health, trauma and PTSD, anxiety and depression, relationships, sex and intimacy concerns, and more.
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