Navigating the road to parenthood is exhausting—physically, mentally, and emotionally. You’re trying to get pregnant, you’re pregnant, you’re prepping for a baby, you have a newborn, you aren’t getting sleep, how do you connect with your partner again? We hear you, mama. We see you, mama. And we’re huge (huge!) advocates for nurturing your mental help during this time. Read on to learn more.
Simply put, a therapist is a licensed mental help professional who provides compassion, support, guidance, an objective opinion, and helps people make sense of their emotions and life situations.
Therapists are also commonly called counselors, mental health counselors, psychologists, and psychotherapists. Psychiatrists are a type of therapist who are also medical doctors and can prescribe medication; therapists, on the other hand, can diagnose but cannot prescribe medication.
Trying to get pregnant can be a very stressful time period, both on the mama and her partner. Seeing a therapist at any point during preconception is highly recommended. We love the idea of seeing a therapist together, prior to trying to conceive. You’ll learn effective coping mechanisms and ways to communicate and connect with each other if the process takes a while.
Many therapists specialize in infertility as well; couples can speak to a therapist as they prepare for fertility treatments. These treatments can be extremely taxing on relationships and having a foundational understanding of the emotions you’ll be experiencing can be incredibly helpful. Therapists can also help you and your partner navigate the grief and loss of being unable to conceive if that’s part of your story.
Pregnancy is a special time in a woman’s life (The glow! The anticipation!), but it can also be anxiety-producing for many (The uncertainty! The life change!). A therapist will walk through your concerns with you, help you get to the root of your fears and give you ways to tackle them.
Going to therapy with your partner is also a wonderful way to work on your relationship during pregnancy. Your therapist will help you identify ways your relationship may or may not be healthy and offer objective advice on how to better your connection.
Additionally, communicating your expectations of each other, sharing parenting philosophies, and building a strong partnership before a baby is invaluable for every couple, whether your relationship is currently healthy or could use some work. A baby will inevitably put some strain the relationship, so it’s great to build a strong support system with each other beforehand.
We cannot emphasize enough the importance of seeing a therapist if you think you’re struggling with postpartum depression or anxiety. According to the Cleveland Clinic, 50-75% of all mothers experience the “baby blues” after delivery and up to 15% experience postpartum depression.
One in 1,000 mothers experience a more severe form called postpartum psychosis, a less common, but severe mental illness that can happen out of the blue and includes very high “highs,” very low “lows,” delusions, and mania. It’s very treatable, but requires a medical professional and oftentimes, a hospital stay. If you think you may be experiencing this, we recommend speaking to your healthcare provider immediately or calling the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Hotline (SAMHSA) in an emergency. For non-emergency issues, there’s a postpartum hotline through Postpartum Support International (PSI).
Note that all mamas and couples, even “healthy” ones, can benefit from a therapist! It’s so helpful to gain clarity, feel supported, and re-establish connection with yourself or your partner during this life-changing time.
Not all therapists are licensed, but all psychologists and psychiatrists are. Since many psychologists call themselves “therapists,” just ask what their background is. Because psychologists (and psychiatrists) can diagnose, we believe that it’s important to see a licensed therapist. Titles to look for:
Most sessions last 45 minutes to an hour. In your first session, you’ll detail your family history and detail why you chose to come to therapy. You and your therapist will explore the symptoms you’re exhibiting or topics you want to address and begin to explore them. Be prepared to be open, honest, and ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable.
It’s crucial that you trust and connect with your therapist in order to experience effective therapy. You are absolutely entitled to switching therapists if you find that you’re not a great fit; the therapist should understand—your mental health is incredibly important.
First of all, we’re proud of you for seeking out the help of a therapist! It can be tricky to convince a partner to attend, but showing them the scientific facts can help. According to the American Psychological Association, couples counseling is 75% effective in improving relationships.
The cost of hiring a therapist varies greatly by title, region and experience, but usually costs between $75-$200 per session. Most insurance cover mental health costs, but the therapist must be in-network. When you find someone you connect with, check to see if your insurance covers them and if they don’t, ask if the therapist has a sliding payscale.