Finding Counseling Support for Perinatal Mental Health: Pregnancy and Postpartum
Having a baby changes many areas of your life- it changes your body, your mind, your energy, your relationships, your work, your identity. In the midst of these big transitions, many women benefit from having an outside perspective from a professional maternal health therapist. However, when you are knee-deep in new motherhood, it can be difficult to know where to turn.
If you are currently pregnant, I recommend utilizing a postpartum plan (free checklist download) to make sure you are thinking about your postpartum needs and prepare resources ahead of time.
When I realized I needed therapy, the last thing I wanted to do was reach out and ask friends for recommendations- I didn’t want to start a conversation about what is supposed to be the best time of my life by saying I was struggling and needed help.
Why it Can be Hard to find a Maternal Therapist
My brain was already fried on a daily basis and the thought of researching and looking for a maternal health therapist felt like a job I couldn’t take on. With so many things calling for my time and attention, I struggled to justify using that time for my own needs and care. If you’re feeling this way:
1. You aren’t alone, even when it feels like it
2. I’ve compiled ideas and resources to help ease the journey for you
Related: What Is Maternal Ambivalence?
What do you need in a maternal health therapist?
If you are a mother (or pregnant), you want a therapist who is trained in perinatal care. This is important because while not all of your conversations will be about the pregnancy, birth, postpartum journey, there are many changes in a woman during this time that has an impact on experience and you want a professional who understands that. You may also have strong preferences regarding a therapist’s background and areas of expertise.
Is faith important to you in this process? Look for someone who has an aligned faith background.
Does sexuality play a big role in your relationship and life? Find a therapist who has an understanding and an inclusive practice.
Do you have previous trauma that may be forming your life now? You want a therapist who has trauma training.
Not all therapists have the same approaches, values, etc. and you can be selective about what is most important to you.
What logistics do you need to consider when finding a maternal health therapist?
What are your scheduling needs? Are you at home? Will you be returning to work soon? Are you a working mom? Do you have childcare options?
Think about what logistics are non-negotiable and what you can alter in order to make this work. If childcare is an issue, you will want to ask the therapy office if you can bring your baby with you. Perhaps you can ask a friend to swap childcare with you so that you can both have a free afternoon to tend to your own needs. If you’re working or going back to work- what scheduling do you need to consider to make ongoing appointments work?
Would virtual appointments be more well-suited for you than in-person?
Related: Postpartum During Coronavirus
Where are the trained professionals in your city?
You can use Psychology Today and/or Postpartum Support International to guide your search for a good therapist.
Using Psychology Today (Specific to United States)
On PsychologyToday.com, enter your city and it will populate a list of therapists
On the left side bar you can filter by specifics.
You want to make sure to filter for “Pregnancy, Prenatal, Postpartum” under “issues.”
On this side bar you can also filter for faith, sexuality, language, therapy type, ect. to increase your chances of having a good fit with your therapist.
Browse therapist profiles- look at their areas of expertise, experience and the language they use to describe their practice.
Look at the therapist accepted insurance plans if you are planning to utilize insurance benefits
If someone feels like a good fit, call and see if he/she is accepting new clients
Related: What Is Postpartum Anxiety?
Using Postpartum Support International (Directions are in US terms, but international support is also available by country)
- On Postpartum Support International home page, click the “Find Local Resources” button
Select “United States Map”
Select your state
Find a coordinator in your area
Call and tell them you are looking for a perinatal trained therapist near you. They will help you find someone.
Finding a maternal health therapist to help you work through your big life transitions is one of the strongest things you can do. By taking this step you not only help yourself, but you allow yourself to be the best version of YOU for those you love.
If you are pregnant and thinking about your postpartum care and needs- good for you! Preparation and planning is such an important part. Part of my speciality is helping you walk you through the areas of transition. This postpartum planning eCourse was designed to give you a postpartum plan to help you think about what you “don’t know you don’t know” about postpartum, have a support team ready, be proactive in your relationship and more!