By Psychologist Rebecca Reidy
As a psychologist in Bowral NSW working in perinatal psychology (supporting mothers from the time of conception, through pregnancy and into early childhood) I appreciate very much that the local community have access to the Calmbirth childbirth education program in Mittagong. The Calmbirth program teaches mind body connection and birth knowledge for improved birth experiences and mother, partner and baby connection. In my work, I also focus on connection, mother baby bonding, connection with yourself for improved self-awareness, and connection with family, friends and services for support.
Becoming a parent sees our life change with new joys and stressors introduced immediately. At this busy time, isn’t ‘calm’ just what many parents would like more of, to see in our babies and children, to feel in our bodies and to experience in our home. Like Calmbirth for pregnancy, ‘calm parenting’ is an appropriate aspiration for parents. However, parenting is full of challenges and it is common for parents to feel overwhelmed and under-supported. These normal experiences can be amplified by other stress in our lives and along with hormonal changes & tiredness can lead to feeling unable to cope and in need of help.
Perinatal professionals include specialist Psychiatrists, Social Workers, Psychologists, Psychotherapists and other trained Counsellors. Psychologists are well equipped to assess and treat clients for ante- and/or post-natal depression and anxiety, to address behaviours or habits you would like to change, develop stress reduction strategies and to support you to be the parent you want to be. Psychologists support their clients to process their unique experiences from the past and present and to build a sense of wellbeing, confidence and resourcefulness.
Anyone can contact a psychologist about their services and costs involved. Alternatively, you might obtain a referral to a psychologist from a GP under a mental health care plan for an initial 6 Medicare funded sessions (you often also pay a gap fee) for adjustment to life changes, post-natal depression and/or anxiety or other diagnosed mental health concerns. Medicare also funds up to 3 sessions (again often with a gap fee) with a psychologist for all women who are pregnant or who have had a pregnancy in the previous 12 months. Under this Medicare scheme women may receive counselling support around pregnancy, birth, adjustment and parenting concerns including relationship stress, financial stress, grief and loss, birthing fears, parenting worries or general stress.
Following birth, women go home with a new experience that may bring great sadness, joy and sometimes ambivalence. It is hard to prepare for everything and sometimes women need extra support especially when suitable family and community support is not available. Two things common amongst many stories of women receiving psychological support following birth is relief and realisation that seeking help is the start of change for the better.
I look forward to sharing more information on maintaining your psychological wellbeing during the precious life stages of pregnancy, birth and the early parenting years.
Rebecca Reidy works at Wintergarden Family Practice in Bowral Ph: 4862 1344