When it comes to parenting, there can still be a lot of stigma, especially around mental health. We find ourselves telling our friends and family that “life is good”, and we feel that we shouldn’t complain, but here’s the thing, you can totally complain.
Parenting is hard, let’s talk about it. Seeking mental health help, no matter where you are in your parenting journey; trying to conceive, pregnant or postpartum, is nothing to be ashamed of.
Let’s break the stigma, and talk about mental health care and resources.
The information in this post came from the conversation I had with Madeleine Stobbe on my podcast Bringing Up Baby. Madeleine is a Registered Psychologist and she specializes in treatment for perinatal mental health issues including depression and anxiety during pregnancy and postpartum, issues related to infertility, perinatal grief and loss, and reproductive trauma.
Breaking The Stigma
I don’t think anyone is fully prepared for what it’s like to leave the hospital with a newborn. Not only are you going through the physical healing of having a baby, you are dealing with hormones, and emotions of becoming a parent.
On Instagram you probably see photos of sleeping babies, and a new parent with a hot drink, but it’s important to realize that this is not the reality for most parents, it’s a curated post.
There’s a wide spectrum of experiences that new parents go through. It’s not about whether or not you’ve been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, it’s about normalizing the experience so that you aren’t struggling alone.
Read more about Postpartum Hormone Changes & What To Expect
When To Seek Treatment
When it comes to seeking treatment, it’s important to know that you don’t need a diagnosis to see a mental health professional.
There’s no right or wrong time to seek therapy, and there’s no right or wrong issue. Sometimes partners want to come in together and sometimes it’s just one parent.
Some common reasons people seek therapy are:
Anything that is impacting your life can be a reason to seek therapy.
How To Know If It’s A Mental Health Issue
As parents, especially first time parents, it can be easy to brush off your experiences as lack of sleep, stress, and something that all parents go through.
Many other people tend to brush off your feelings as “you signed up for this when you decided to have a baby”.
So how can you actually know if it’s a mental health issue, or just a “season of life”?
These are all signs that it is time to seek additional help. You can start with your primary care provider, and also check out the resources listed at the bottom of this post.
What is Therapy Like?
If you’ve never been to therapy before, it can seem a bit daunting. Every therapist is going to work a little differently, depending on your unique situation and your goals.
For the most part your therapist will talk to you about your background, and what you’re struggling with.
You should feel comfortable and safe, and your therapist should give you a chance to ask questions.
Treatment will vary based on your situation, it could be regular appointments, or periodic check ins.
Know that this is a temporary chapter of your life, and these feelings won’t last forever. Perinatal mental health issues are treatable conditions and with help, you can be well.
Here are some of the best places to seek care:
As parents, you are going to have amazing moments where you feel so connected or bonded to your child. You’re going to have moments that are just neutral or good, but there will also be moments when you struggle.
It’s important that we normalize all those moments, and also seek help when the hard moments are affecting your life.
If you are looking for another way to connect with other parents, get support from a certified Baby & Sleep Specialist (me!) check out my Bringing Up Baby Membership.
Both Lindsey and Ashley contribute to the blog! Sometimes also with guests and sometimes from conversations with guests :)