10 Things New Mothers Should Ask Their Therapist
Between changing dirty diapers and soothing screaming babies, the struggles of being a new mom are real. Given the challenges of being a new parent, every new mother deserves someone in their court — and for many women, that means consulting a licensed therapist and getting help with handling the stresses of being a new mother.
Any new mom can benefit from a therapist, who will listen to their concerns without judgment and offer helpful insights to transform negative thoughts and behaviors. As many as 1 in 5 new mothers suffer from peripartum depression — but even if you don’t have a clinical disorder, a qualified therapist can still help you adjust to this new chapter of your life.
Once you’ve found the right therapist for your goals as a new mom, you’ll probably be full of questions for them about what being a new mother means for you. Here are some of the ponderings of a new mom that might be worth bringing up in your therapist’s office!
Finding the Right Therapist
Before we can get into the questions you may want to ask your therapist, you’ll of course need to locate, well, a therapist! Choosing the right therapist can be tricky, especially when you have so many other things on your mind as a new mother. However, these resources are sure to help you narrow down the competition, so you can spend more time on the things that matter — like soaking in every moment of your brand-new parenting journey!
If you suspect you may be suffering from more than just the baby blues (or simply need someone to talk to about the challenges of being a new mom), you may want to consider seeking professional help. There are three main types of professional therapists you can contact:
- Psychologists are professionals who attended graduate school to earn a PhD in Psychology. As part of their PhD studies, they generally will have performed research in psychology, as well as spent time in clinical settings.
- Licensed Clinical Social Workers are professionals who attended a two-year graduate program to earn their Master’s degree in Social Work. Following their social work studies, they took an exam to become a Licensed Social Worker, then accrued hours working in a clinical setting to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
- Licensed Professional Counselors may be doctoral or masters-level professionals with a graduate degree in Counseling or a related field. Following two years of supervised clinical practice, they took the LPC exam to become licensed counselors.
Here at The Meadowglade, we have a team that can provide you with the individualized help you need and a background in helping people manage depression, anxiety, and other disorders.
Questions to Ask Your Therapist
So you’ve made the leap and decided to get a therapist of your own — congratulations! Once you’ve taken that first scary step, you’ll now want to prepare yourself with a list of questions to ask your therapist during the first appointment. Here are just a few of the things that might be running through your head as a new mother that your therapist can help you address.
1. Am I Doing This Right?
Granted, your therapist isn’t there to give parenting advice — but they are great at offering reassurance!
While many new moms worry they might be doing something wrong, in truth, there’s no one right way to be a parent. Your therapist can put some of these negative thoughts into perspective, offering you much-needed insight into how common your worries just really are. Most importantly, they can remind you how to check those negative thoughts, clearing more headspace for you to spend bonding with your newborn baby.
2. Why Am I So Overwhelmed?
Being a new parent can be overwhelming. Between constant feeding and changing, you may find yourself with very little time to eat and sleep, let alone free time for self-care! But with 8% of millennial parents reporting that social media makes them feel inadequate, it’s no wonder that new mothers feel like they should be handling parenthood better than they are. In reality, being a new mom is overwhelming for everyone — and a therapist can help you put your thoughts back into perspective while also helping you figure out how to carve out time to take care of yourself..
3. Why Am I Worried All The Time?
As a new mother, you might find yourself surprised by how often you worry about your newborn infant. The good news is that maternal bonding creates a deep sense of love between mother and baby that keeps your baby’s wellbeing on your mind much of the time….
However, the bad news is that it can also result in over-protectiveness, and therefore anxiety. In fact, studies have even found that the structure of the brain changes when a woman becomes a mother, leading to increased activity in the part of the brain that induces anxiety. A therapist can help you rewire your brain using strategies from cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT: a type of therapy used to alter the negative thought cycles that perpetuate anxiety in the brain.
4. Is Parenting Supposed To Be This Hard?
As we mentioned previously, social media can offer a pretty skewed vision of parenting. On Facebook, your mommy friends are posting carefully curated images that make their lives look perfect, while influencers Instagram pics of smiling babies in designer onesies that make you feel like a sham. Images of parenthood in media – especially social media – may make stressed out mothers feel as though they’re doing something wrong. However, that’s not the case.
You should never feel ashamed to share these feelings with your therapist, since it’s their job to help you reframe your perspective in a more realistic way. Your therapist can give you the much-needed reminder that life as a parent is not always what it seems to be online!
5. Why Do I Have Trouble Sleeping?
One of the problems new mothers frequently complain of is trouble sleeping, thanks to constant waking for feeding and changing a crying infant. While it’s true that sleeplessness can lead to irritability and sadness, it’s important to bring up these problems with your therapist, since they can also be symptoms of depression. Studies have found that sleep disturbances and postpartum depression frequently occur together, making it even more important to talk to your therapist about any sleeplessness you might be facing.
What may seem to be a normal consequence of having a new baby crying at inopportune times may actually be a sign that something even more serious than sleep deprivation is going on.
6. Why Am I Terrified Of Hurting My Baby?
As The Postpartum Stress Center writes, “Good moms have scary thoughts.” In this case, ‘scary thoughts’ refers to those repetitive, intrusive, unwanted thoughts new moms sometimes get.
These thoughts can range from “What if I drop my baby?” to “What if I stab my baby with this kitchen knife?” to “I’m having distressing thoughts about my baby.” If you’re worried about these thoughts, that’s a good sign — because it means that your thoughts, while scary, are perfectly normal! But these thoughts could signify postpartum anxiety, or even obsessive-compulsive disorder, making it absolutely essential to disclose them to your therapist for the best care and treatment possible.
7. What Causes The Baby Blues?
While suffering from the baby blues or its more serious form, postpartum depression, new moms may feel like they are crazy or strange for having these struggles. Understanding what causes the baby blues underscores how normal this experience actually is! During pregnancy, a mother’s hormones change — and following pregnancy, they slowly begin to return to normal. It’s thought that these routine hormonal changes result in weepiness, irritability, anxiety, fatigue and other symptoms of the baby blues in 70-80% of new moms. Your therapist can elaborate on the causes of the baby blues in further detail, but the most important takeaway? Your baby blues are normal — and one of your therapist’s many jobs is to remind you of that!
8. Should I Try Antidepressants?
If you’ve struggled with postpartum depression during a previous birth or are experiencing particularly intense symptoms (such as thoughts of death or suicide), you may be wondering if medication is right for you. While a therapist generally cannot prescribe medication — unless they are a psychiatrist, who is a doctor trained in mental healthcare — they can provide insight as to whether medication can help your particular case, and even give you a referral to a provider who can prescribe the medication that’s right for you. Antidepressants you may have heard of that are used to treat postpartum depression include fluoxetine (brand name Prozac), escitalopram (Lexapro) and sertraline (Zoloft).
9. How Will My Parenting Journey Change?
As your baby grows up, you can expect a number of changes, both physical and emotional, in your child — but also in the way you feel as a parent. Ideally, the right therapist for you will continue to be available throughout every stage of your parenting journey for questions, concerns or even to resume treatment if you experience a relapse of symptoms. There’s certainly no shame in discussing these future plans with your therapist, as it may help you make a decision on which provider is the best fit for your family. For example, if you’re planning on having a second child, will your therapist be available for questions? Or, if your child faces an issue down the road that requires therapy, do they also treat children? Do they do joint or family therapy? Only your therapist can answer these questions in a way that makes sense for you.
10. Am I Normal?
In short, yes! Most new moms face the same challenges you do. However, don’t just take our word for it: ask your therapist. A therapist can be helpful in reframing the challenges you’re facing so you no longer feel alone in your struggles as a new mother. They can share anecdotes from other patients they’ve treated (anonymously, of course!) and what’s worked for them to help you see life as a new mom in a new, more realistic light.
Being a new mother can be difficult. Whether it’s your first baby or your fourth, becoming a mother is a beautiful, but stressful experience that many women struggle to navigate. While society might make it seem as though everyone has to be a celebrity mom and rush through their recovery, returning to pre-birth lifestyle in the snap of a finger, we know that that’s not a fair expectation of anyone.
Are you a new mother that’s feeling overwhelmed and lost? Do you suspect that you have postpartum depression? If you are a new mom that needs help, you should know that you don’t have to struggle alone and that a therapist can help.
If you’ve found yourself dealing with increased mental health issues following the birth of your baby including postpartum depression, you can reach out to us in order to learn more about how the Meadowglade can help you make strides in making it through this hurdle. Contact us today to learn more!