Did you know? Psychological research has shown that those women who worry more about the birth of their child before it happens are less anxious in the situation. So, not only is it normal to be anxious beforehand, it can even help! It can help you trying to imagine the situation, even though it is very difficult to do so, and see what kind of birth scenario would seem best to you. Keep in mind that it might all be different in the end and that there is no ‘correct’ way to give birth; but having imagined it will nonetheless help you prepare.
However, If your worries or concerns become overwhelming this can become a burden. There may be other health complications affecting your pregnancy, or you may have had negative experiences with previous pregnancies that can all lead to increasing distress. If worries about your pregnancy are becoming too much or you feel that you cannot talk well about it to those around you, then seeking the advice of an experienced professional may be beneficial for you.
Here are some words of advice from our colleague, Tanja Staehler – professor of Philosophy at the University of Sussex and mother of three.
After Giving Birth
It is normal to feel strange after giving birth! After all, it's a very strange experience, and what it leaves you with is a strange creature who is wholly dependent on you. A very lovable creature -- but don't worry if it takes you some time to experience that.
The expression 'birth trauma' or 'post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)' is a bit misleading because it gives the impression of a clear line when most people experience a kind of grey zone. Although your birth experience might have - hopefully! - been less traumatic than some others, you definitely have the right to your own complicated feelings about it. And don't let others tell you that it's all just because of hormones and that nothing can be done (as this cartoon illustrates in a funny fashion)
However for some, their births or factors / complications surrounding their birth experience can lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
If you feel it would be good to talk about your birth experience, or you are feeling desperate or isolated, do not panic. At Psychology Sussex we have experienced practitioners who will offer you compassion and support throughout whatever it is you are currently experiencing.
Miscarriage / Stillbirth
Miscarriages (the loss of a child within 24 weeks of pregnancy) and stillbirths (the loss of a child after 24 weeks of pregnancy) can be devastating, taking both an emotional and physical toll. They can lead to a great many complicated feelings such as sadness, despair, anger, shock, guilt and jealousy. However, there is no 'correct' way to feel and no 'correct' way to 'move on' or grieve the loss experienced. Each individual will experience the loss in their own way. It can feel very hard to come to terms with this loss. Talking about the experience can feel impossible or we may resist the urge to do so since it may feel that articulating what has happened can make it 'more real' leading to an increase in distressing feelings.
Sometimes these distressing feelings can pass with time. Again, there is no 'correct' amount of time it can take to recover from a miscarriage. However for others it does not feel possible to move on which can have a significant impact on the individual concerned, on their ability to live their lives as well as on their relationships with others.
For some women, the experience of a miscarriage or stillbirth can be traumatic and sometimes can lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This may be indicated, for example, by experiencing nightmares, flashbacks or the desire to avoid certain situations – such as meeting up with pregnant friends or friends who have children, or attending medical appointments.
If you or someone you know are struggling to come to terms with a miscarriage or stillbirth or you think may be traumatised by this experience, Psychology Sussex are happy to recommend practitioners who are experienced in working with women who have experienced a miscarriage as well as their partners and loved ones.
Termination of Pregnancy
Terminations, like miscarriages, can lead to complicated and distressing feelings. As above, there is no 'correct' way to feel or to heal the distressing feelings that may be associated with a termination. If you think that significant others around you may not be able to understand what it is you are going through, or you would like to talk with an impartial and experienced professional about a termination then do not hesitate to make contact with Psychology Sussex now.
Discovering that either yourself or your partner are unable to have a baby can be difficult to come to terms with. You may have been trying to conceive for some time and may also have tried medical treatments, surgical procedures or assisted conception depending on what it is that is causing infertility in yourself or your partner. These interventions themselves may contribute to increasing levels of stress, anxiety and depression.
Coming to terms with infertility can be difficult for both men and women. In the context of not being able to fulfil one's wish to conceive it is common and understandable that complicated and distressing feelings such as anger, sadness, anxiety, worthlessness, low self-esteem may arise as well as the potential for difficulties in relationships to result. One may also experience shame if there is a perceived pressure in society to conceive and have children. This can also be particularly compounded for women who are subject to expectations that having children is a part of the 'female role'.
If you or someone that you know are struggling to come to terms with the psychological impact of infertility, or any of the difficulties listed above, then do not hesitate to contact Psychology Sussex now to discuss how it is that we may be able to help.