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Expectations Place Pressure On New Mothers And Can Lead To Perinatal Depression And Anxiety

Psychological preparation for motherhood during pregnancy, helps reduce the likelihood of women experiencing perinatal depression and anxiety. The Mother’s Group assists women reflect on the expectations that they have on themselves, their baby and partner and other significant loved ones. It also helps women develop ways of managing their down days, worries and self-doubt.

Bedford – WEBWIRE
Kirstin Bouse - Clinical and Forensic Psychologist - perinatal mental health, parenting, bonding and attachment, fostering and adoption expert
Kirstin Bouse - Clinical and Forensic Psychologist - perinatal mental health, parenting, bonding and attachment, fostering and adoption expert

The Mother’s Group: Making Motherhood a Little Easier

A quarter of pregnant women feel depressed or anxious – yet this figure could be reduced if women were made more aware of what to expect when becoming a mother.

Clinical Psychologist Kirstin Bouse said many expectant mothers eat healthily, exercise and have a birth plan but fail to think about what happens once the baby arrives and how they will feel.

“Most issues of depression and anxiety during pregnancy, or following childbirth, can be successfully addressed by accessing professional services early,” said Ms Bouse.

“Women who are planning a family tend to focus on getting pregnant and their birth plan, often neglecting their psychological wellbeing,” she said.

“Often signs of depression and anxiety can be missed because the focus is on the physical changes that happen during pregnancy and childbirth, rather than the emotional ones.”

“If left unaddressed, 48 per cent of women who experience anxiety and 70 per cent who experience depression prior to the birth of their baby will continue to have those symptoms through the early years of their child’s life.”

“Motherhood is always a life-changing, psychological and emotional journey, and is shaped by all our life experiences.”

“The message out there is that people have been having babies for generations and because of that, it’s ‘natural’ and there should be no problems.”

“However, this is not the case for many women.”

Ms Bouse said pregnant women could begin to prepare themselves for the psychological experience of motherhood by reflecting on the following:

  1. Forward thinking: Start thinking about what they will be like as a mother, what they expect their baby will be like, particularly in relation to gender, and what their relationship with their baby will be like. 
  2. Expectations of partner: Talking to their partner about what is expected and being receptive to hearing what their partner expects of them.
  3. Re-visit childhood: Examine their experience of being parented and what they believe their parents did well and what they didn’t do so well.
  4. Life style change: Be aware of how their lifestyle will change and what parts of their pre-baby lifestyle they can maintain (even in a smaller way) to keep themselves connected to their identity as a woman.
  5. Ask for help: Knowing when to ask for help from family and friends just as much as how to set boundaries with them when they offer ill-informed and unrequested advice.

“Women often have higher expectations of themselves in their mothering than generations before them did,” Ms Bouse said.

“The key to not being overwhelmed by motherhood is to create the space to explore some of these issues before your child arrives,” she said.

For more information on preparing for parenting or parenting itself,

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 Preparing for motherhood
 Post-natal depression
 Post-natal anxiety

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