Maternal Mental Health Month – Five Reasons to Talk to a Professional Counselor

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Back in September of 2011, I truly had no clue what I was about to get myself into.  I knew I was done being pregnant and I was ready to get my body back and of course, meet my little man.  October rolls around, I can barely walk and Jameson decides to join our family a week later than expected via c-section.  

My whole life I knew that I wanted to be a mom and couldn’t wait to have my own family.  I guess no one can fully grasp both mentally and physically, the changes that occur when you become a mother.  I had read all the books, had the phone apps and soaked up every bit of advice I could hear.  But I truly had no clue.  The change from being an independent woman, yes I had my husband I loved to care for and a dog to walk and feed and get home to but mostly an independent woman, to being a person that another little helpless being depends on 24 hours a day hit me little a tidal wave.  

I can remember being in shock after the c-section, my head couldn’t wrap itself around the fact that the baby I was holding was the one that I had just grown inside my belly for the past 10 months.  The hospital I delivered at had a nursery and I took full advantage of having him sleep in there so I could rest.  At one point, the nurse came in and saw me awake, watching television and said, can I bring your baby back in?  I was in such a fog I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t even asked for him back.  The next few months were hard, I loved my son but we didn’t click at first. I put so much pressure on myself to breastfeed him and it just wasn’t working, he was miserable, I was miserable.  I remember when I left for maternity leave I was so sad that I wasn’t going to be able to stay home full time with my son.  I remember on maternity leave wishing to get back to work.  That first day back, I cried when I dropped him off at daycare but I remember sitting in my office and feeling a moment of freedom, feeling like myself for the first time since I had given birth.  

As I look back at those first few months of becoming a mother, I wished I had gone and spoken to someone.  At that time most of my friends didn’t have children and there weren’t mom Facebook groups like there are today.  At that time I thought therapists were for moms that were in deep, dark postpartum depression. However, I truly believe that seeking professional help would have helped me immensely.  

I want you to know you are not alone.  Talking to a professional can only help. 

Back in 2019 I spoke to a licensed psychotherapist and I asked her for five reasons that mothers should talk to a professional counselor:

  1. Your friends and family don’t know how to help. Intense feelings of sadness or anxiety can become overwhelming. Friends may be well-meaning, but don’t always know how to help you with the problem. You may even get advice that is unwanted or useless. You can feel like a burden and stop talking to friends and family. Talking to a professional allows time devoted specifically to you and your needs. Which leads to the next point…
  2. Get unbiased support and sound advice. A psychotherapist or other mental health professional is specifically trained in how to help people. They receive training that allows them to give you sound advice that is also unbiased, thus allowing you to be part of the problem-solving. In addition, a neutral party can give you a fresh perspective and help you solve your own problems.
  3. It’s best to deal with issues rather than trying to ignore them.  Like a festering wound that you cover with a Band-Aid, not dealing with the root cause of an issue can perpetuate the problem and keep it around. It’s best to deal with problems when they are smaller, rather than waiting until they overwhelm you.
  4. Therapy is proven to work and there are many well-documented benefits of therapy. In fact, research shows that women with postpartum depression and anxiety get better, faster when they seek professional support. They also have less reoccurrence of depression in subsequent pregnancies and during motherhood.
  5. You don’t need to suffer alone. Suffering in silence causes us to be alone with our thoughts. Like walking in a bad neighborhood at night, we will tend to get ourselves all worked up. With no one to check our thoughts, they can run rampant. Allowing others into our world can help us to find balanced thinking and balanced life.

Hope these tips help or you can share them with a new mom, we all need to know we aren’t alone.