Pregnancy and motherhood can be extremely challenging times. Some women feel a pressure to be “Supermum”, balancing work, home, and children. Others may have difficulty bonding with their baby, or overcoming the trauma of a complicated delivery. Sometimes challenges include relationship issues, problems with sleep or feeding, or the grief of a miscarriage or still birth.
Childbirth is a significant life event for women, and within society generally there is an expectation that childbirth will be a very rewarding and happy time. Although many women view birth and the postpartum period as a satisfying and joyful experience, this is not the case for all women. In reality, women report both positive and negative experiences associated with childbirth.
While childbirth is a normal human event, it is also commonly a stressful event that requires changes and adaptations, and is associated with a substantial risk for psychological distress. This period is associated with increased physical health problems that include exhaustion, back and bowel problems, urinary and breast problems, prolonged bleeding, and sexual difficulties. Childbirth and the postpartum period are also associated with increased distress and mental illness. Unfortunately, a mother’s needs for assistance are often not met.
There are a number of psychological conditions that can occur during pregnancy and postpartum. Mood disorders and anxiety disorders are among the more common conditions experienced in relation to pregnancy and childbirth. Many women have heard of the "Baby Blues". Postpartum depression (PPD) or Postnatal depression (PND) can be one issue, but there are other mental disorders associated with the postpartum period, including anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Psychological treatments have been shown to be effective in the treatment of depression and anxiety and can assist women with emotional concerns in pregnancy and postpartum. If a woman or her partner is experiencing emotional concerns during the perinatal period or beyond, it is important to seek assistance from a health care professional whom has training and experience in the treatment of mental health care problems during this period. It is important for women and their families to know that assistance is available and that they do not have to suffer in silence.