This quick Q & A with Perth perinatal psychologist Juliana Gavranich from Nurturing Mother will answer your top questions about what, why and how to make the most of this service.
What is perinatal psychology?
A perinatal psychologist has had specific training and experience in helping expecting and new mothers and couples with particular issues that can arise around planning for pregnancy, conception, birth, and the postnatal period.
There can be an array of reasons for seeking help during these times, but common issues include:
– Difficulty conceiving
– Assisted reproduction (IVF)
– Undesired foetal or neonatal diagnoses
– Grief related to miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss
– Having a premature or unwell infant
– Childbirth trauma
– Feeling anxious and depressed
– Parent-infant attachment
– Adjustment difficulties
– Relationship issues
– Parenting support and advice
How can speaking to a Perinatal Psychologist help?
Trying to conceive, pregnancy, and new parenthood, are all times that involve many physical and emotional stressors, and a lot of change. Many women, men and couples are affected by feelings of anxiety, stress, low mood, exhaustion, grief, etc., so it can be hard to know what is “normal” and what may not be.
There are so many changes and adjustments to make, that new parents especially don’t have any personal experiences to draw from, so it can be difficult to work out whether your feelings will adjust in time or if there is something more to it. To add to the confusion, well intended relatives, friends and family may say reassuring things such as “it’s normal to feel like this” or “it will get better, just hang in there”. Speaking to a professional can help shift these feelings and support you to enjoy pregnancy and parenthood.
What are some of the signs that I may need help?
The most common conditions that can occur in the perinatal period are depression and anxiety. As many as 1 in 5 women experience anxiety while pregnant or in the year after birth. One in 10 women experience depression during pregnancy, and this increases to 1 in 7 in the year after birth. The statistics for men are also high, with 1 in 20 facing depression during the pregnancy period, and 1 in 10 in the year after birth. It is common to experience both anxiety and depression together.
Some of the signs include:
– Panic attacks
– Persistent worry, being ‘on edge’ or panicky
– Mood swings
– Feeling constantly sad, low or crying for no reason
– Feeling constantly tired and lacking energy
– Having little or no interest in pleasurable activities
– Sleeping too much or not well at all
– Losing interest in sex and intimacy
– Withdrawing from friends and family
– Finding it difficult to focus, concentrate or remember things
– Engaging in more risk-taking behaviour (i.e. alcohol or drug use)
– Having thoughts of death or suicide
Generally speaking, if you are distressed by your situation, feel like you are not coping and your feelings don’t improve within a couple of weeks, then that is probably a good sign to seek help.
What does a therapy session involve?
It can be incredibly daunting seeking help, which is why I provide a warm and personalised service. I offer a home visiting service, which helps to create a private, comfortable and nurturing space, with the added benefit of not rushing to leave the house with a baby in tow- I come to you!
I tend to use a relational, attachment-based framework, so I always invite baby into sessions in addition to supporting you with your areas of need. Perinatal work often involves the mother-baby duo. Sessions may also involve the father or partner, depending on the collaborative treatment plan and goals.
While I use a range of evidence-based approaches, I truly believe it is the therapeutic relationship that counts, which is why it is so important to feel like you have a good connection with your psychologist.