Many women find coping with infertility to be extremely stressful, significantly affecting their daily living, relationships, and overall mental health. As one of these women, perhaps you feel out of control, or like you can’t find the answers you’re looking for. You might feel like nobody understands your experience, or that you are unsure of whether or not you want to pursue fertility treatments. Maybe you can’t handle hearing about others’ pregnancy announcements or children without experiencing anger, grief, sadness, envy, or shame. And the stress of it all might be affecting your well-being, your sense of worth, and your relationship with your partner. You may find yourself thinking thoughts such as: Why me? or I’ve failed as a woman, or I thought getting pregnant was supposed to be natural and easy. Common experiences of infertility include:
feeling alone or isolated in your experience
feelings of grief, overwhelming sadness or feeling emotionally exhausted
feelings of depression, including feeling physically weak or exhausted, numb, heavy, or unmotivated
feelings of anxiety such as bodily tension, irritability, racing thoughts, panic attacks, or insomnia
feeling overwhelmed by fertility treatments, investigations, and choices
feelings of anger, envy or resentment toward others
My counselling approach focuses on providing emotional support to help you navigate the various stages of the infertility journey. I will help you to find coping tools to help manage the stress associated with infertility treatments and investigations. Together, we will explore your feelings of grief/loss, guilt, anger, shame, and sadness, so that these feelings no longer feel unmanageable or like they are taking over your life. I can also provide decision making support around reproductive technology (IFV, IUI, etc). The experience of processing emotions and making decisions can result in a sense of personal agency and feeling more empowered and connected to yourself and others.
COUNSELLING FOR PREGNANCY LOSS: MISCARRIAGE, STILLBIRTH, & TERMINATION
Pregnancy loss can include miscarriage, recurrent loss, neonatal loss, stillbirth, late-term/genetics terminations, and abortion. These experiences can bring up a profound sense of loss which can be both physically and emotionally overwhelming and may bring up feelings of sadness, grief anger, anxiety, or depression.
Some common experiences after pregnancy loss include:
grief which may show up as overwhelming sadness or feeling emotionally exhausted
depression which may show up as feeling physically weak or exhausted, numb, heavy, or unmotivated
feeling of anger at yourself, others, or the medical system
anxiety which may show up as bodily tension, irritability, racing thoughts, panic attacks, or insomnia
difficulty relating with others: your partner, friends, family
feelings of envy and resentment towards others
feeling alone and isolated
Our culture does not have many practices for mourning a pregnancy loss and many women and their partners feel alone with their feelings of grief. One of the challenges aspects of pregnancy loss is that it often unrecognized by other people. In the case of miscarriage, some women may not have shared their pregnancy with others during their first term and thus may be dealing with the pregnancy loss alone or are left in the difficult position of telling others of both the pregnancy and the loss at the same time. Additionally, in our culture, we often don’t have the tools we need to mourn a pregnancy loss because there are no memories to draw upon with your baby and no specific mourning rituals which making coping even more challenging.
My counselling approach for pregnancy loss includes helping you to cope with your feelings of grief, loss, sadness, anger, or envy so that you feel lighter, more present in your life, and more connected with your partner. Together we will find tools that will help you to make sense of your experience, mourn your loss and move through this difficult time.
Giving birth is a profound experience which greatly affects our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual selves. Childbirth can be empowering, scary, exciting, and even traumatic. Perhaps you’re feeling anxious or afraid about certain aspects of the birth process or postpartum experience or you may have had a previous traumatic or disappointing birth experience that you want to process. Birth counselling can help you to identify and work through concerns and/or fears about your upcoming birth so that you can develop strategies to cope and enter into the process of birth int the most relaxed and prepared stated possible. Birth Counselling might involve:
identifying and working through fears and/or triggers such as losing control, undergoing physical/vaginal exams or invasive medical procedures, being in a hospital, experiencing pain etc.
creating a birth plan to address strategies for coping with fears and personal preferences
developing tools to feel grounded, safe, and calm during the birth process
developing a healthy relationship with food and your body during pregnancy and postpartum
recognizing associations between feelings about the birth and past experiences or traumas
processing past traumatic or disappointing birth experiences and developing a plan to minimize the likelihood of another traumatic birth
Together, we will find strategies to help you cope with your fears including ways to avoid triggers, reduce their impact, or cope with those that are inevitable. We will also make sure that you feel in control of your choices for your birth including how you would like to handle medical procedures or difficult or unexpected situations. By dealing with triggers and concerns around birth and by feeling supported and empowered, you can lessen the experience of stress, anxiety, and fear and maximize your chances of having a positive and empowering birth experience.
The postpartum period is an enormous transitional time, which involves taking on a new identity and discovering your role as a mother. Hormonal changes, lack of sleep, recovering from the birth process, and adjusting to caring for an infant 24/7, can make this period incredibly stressful and overwhelming. Some women may seek counselling to help find tools for managing stress and coping with this difficult transition. Other women may find that this period brings with it strong feelings of anxiety & depression. It is estimated that 1 out of 6 women experience a perinatal mood disorder within a year of the birth of their child. Some of the common symptoms of postpartum depression and/or anxiety include:
Excessive worry and fear (often related to the baby’s health) or panic attacks
Outbursts of crying and/or strong feelings of sadness, anger, or resentment
Difficulty connecting with your baby
Feelings of guilt or hopelessness
A lack of energy or motivation
Strong feelings of shame, failure & inadequacy
Extreme sleep deprivation and difficulty sleeping (beyond the normal disruptions that come with being a new mom)
Withdrawing from family and friends or the inability to connect with your partner
Difficulty integrating a traumatic birth experience: flashbacks, hyper-vigilance, numbness
Perhaps you might find yourself thinking thoughts such as:
There is something wrong with me. Why can’t handle this when everyone else can?
I’m failing at motherhood
I can’t connect with my baby
Some women experience these symptoms during pregnancy, others immediately following the birth, and for others the symptoms may not show up for many months. Struggling with postpartum depression and/or anxiety can be incredibly distressing for the new mother and can have significant effects on her mental health, well-being and relationships with her family.
Through postpartum counselling, I offer emotional support to help you explore your feelings of sadness, anger, isolation, shame, or guilt and tools for coping with your depression, anxiety, and/or trauma. Together, we will explore ways of managing your stress, increasing self-care, and discovering your identity as a mother. We will also explore ways to help you feel more connected to yourself, your partner, and your baby. Additional areas of exploration might include, developing a healthy relationship with food and your body, learning skills for improving communication and your relationship with your partner, and taking the opportunity to process and explore the birth experience.