pregnancy and becoming a parent

While many women and men feel pleased and excited by pregnancy and the birth of their child, this can be a challenging time for some. Some women, for example, feel anxious about their health or the health of their unborn child during pregnancy, or they may feel anxious about childbirth, especially if a previous pregnancy or labour was traumatic. Women and men may feel worried about how they will cope following birth, and for some couples, partners may have shared as well as distinct concerns.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted may aspects of our lives, including service provision during pregnancy. There may have been changes to the ways in which antenatal care is offered and the ease with which advice and appointments can be accessed following childbirth. Lockdown and social distancing restrictions have affected the social support people have, and there is an increased risk of social isolation, loneliness or low mood. Birthing plans that women have had in mind may no longer be possible (e.g. as no visitors are allowed in the labour ward). Coping with pregnancy- or childbirth-related trauma, such as miscarriage or still birth, or grief, may be a much more isolated experience, due to shielding or social distancing.

Often, people feel reluctant to mention mental health symptoms, such as anxiety or low mood, to partners, family or friends or health professionals, due to stigma or concern that this will imply that they might not be able to cope or look after their baby. 

Yet, there are several psychological therapy approaches that can be helpful for making sense of, and coping with anxieties or worries during and following pregnancy. These include Systemic Therapy, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Mindfulness-Based Approaches and Compassion Focused Therapy.