The place of true healing is a fierce place. It’s a giant place. It’s a place of monstrous beauty and endless dark and glimmering light. And you have to work really, really, really hard to get there, but you can do it.
If you’re currently pregnant or postpartum and not feeling quite like yourself, you’re not alone. And, if you’re not currently pregnant or postpartum, but have been in the past, you can probably remember times when you didn’t quite feel like yourself. There can be many factors that influence these feeling from normal hormonal changes to a mental health related issue to feeling stressed and overwhelmed about the current and future changes in your life.
As a Certified Perinatal Mental Health Therapist (PMH-C) through Postpartum Support International (PSI), I hear all the time from clients in the perinatal period that the issues that are showing up are things they thought they’d work through. But, this transition into motherhood (or becoming a mom to more kids) has a sneaky way of bringing up things from the past. Here are some issues that may resurface in pregnancy and postpartum:
- Perfectionism- even as a “recovering perfectionist” I was surprised how much I wanted to be a perfect pregnant woman and perfect mom to my kids, right from day one!
- Being too hard on yourself- we all make mistakes, but boy can our inner critic show up loudly when you’ve made a mistake during pregnancy or postpartum.
- Not feeling good enough- in motherhood, in our relationship with our partner, in our relationship with extended family, in our friendships, at work and with co-workers, etc.
- Grief and loss- especially if you’ve lost a loved one who won’t get to meet your baby or see your baby grow and mature over the years.
What else would you add to this list? Was there anything that showed up and surprised you during this time in your own life?
Above are some of the common internal stressors that might show up during the perinatal period, there are often external stressors that can show up too, including:
- Needing external validation from others, especially if this is your first pregnancy or first baby.
- Extended family issues- these may include your parents or in laws wanting to be involved in your baby’s life in a certain way that doesn’t resonate with you, wanting you to parent the same way they did, etc.
- Judgment and criticism from others- this often show up around you making different choices than the people around you, especially when it comes to “hot button issues” like breastfeeding.
- Social media and the comparison trap- it can be so hard to not compare how you’re feeling internally to the seemingly perfect life someone is presenting externally. Ask yourself a couple of questions when you notice this like, “I wonder what the back story is here that this picture isn’t showing?” or “Is looking at this post helpful to my healing?”
What else would you add to this list? What other external stressors did you go through during your own pregnancy or postpartum experiences?
Let’s end with some ways to help lower perinatal overwhelm:
- Spend time with loved ones
- Ask for help when you need it
- Process with a therapist
- Come up with a daily mantra
- Go outside and focus on your five senses/mindfulness
What other self-care ideas would you add to this list?
The perinatal period can feel very stressful and overwhelming at times for most of us. If you’re struggling right now, know that you’re not alone. Please reach out to a PMH-C (Perinatal Mental Health Certified therapist) in your area for more help and support during pregnancy, postpartum and motherhood (https://psidirectory.com/). I’ve been there too, and I’m sending lots of love and compassion your way!