May is World Maternal Mental Health Day. A day to raise awareness of mothers’ mental health issues, so that more women seek help, receive appropriate treatment and suffer less.
The celebration of this day is quite unknown, but I find it very interesting not so much for the idea of asking for help, but for showing that the process which goes from a child’s will until a child is born and a couple becomes parents, is not idyllic. It is an experience which in addition to the expectation and the excitement, can lead to uncertainties, unforeseen events, traumatic events, anxiety, ambivalent feelings …
The psychological dimension of motherhood
From the previous urges to conceive a child to the first moments of rearing, there are a wide variety of situations that include this period:
- A woman who doesn’t know if she wants to be a mother.
- A woman who wants to be a mother but who is afraid.
- A woman who wants to be a single mother.
- A woman who wants to be a mother and who cannot.
- Two women who want to be mothers.
- Two men who want to be parents.
- An unplanned pregnancy.
- An aborted pregnancy.
- A complicated pregnancy.
- A recent mother who doesn’t know what to do with her baby.
- A mother or parents with conflicting feelings.
- A couple who are destabilized when a child arrives, whether it is the first, the second or whatever the number.
Obviously, I have left a lot of situations behind, and there is someone who does not identify with any of the ones I have listed. It would be impossible to list them all, because there can be as many consultation reasons as there are people. But … Why should someone looking to become pregnant, or pregnant, or a new mother, seek professional help?
Psychological well-being in the process of being a mother
Everything can go normally, or rather without a start, but the person may find themselves rarefied, or their vital difficulties may be accentuated at this time, or they may be overwhelmed by doubts and fears, about to arise. A suffering that pushes her to consult.
It can also happen that events unfold with incidents and it overwhelms you, and this is the cause that leads you to consult. The only thing common to all situations is discomfort, suffering, and this is already a reason for consultation.
The search for a pregnancy, assisted reproduction treatments, conception, pregnancy, childbirth, the postpartum period, the puerperium, gestational or perinatal mourning, we are talking about a moment of transformation, changing women, change partner, change family.
This implies a readjustment which sometimes becomes complicated. And not only do you have to look for a new comfort – a reconfiguration of your own life – but it is a very fruitful moment for fears, ideals, identifications to appear, Let them experience these moments with more shadows than lights.
You have to be able to accommodate the desire to be a parent. The uncertainty of the design must be crossed. The experience of pregnancy. And you must be able to meet the child, because sometimes it is a pure misunderstanding. And prevention is complicated, because a priori we do not know which subjective aspects will be activated in the course of motherhood. In addition, it is necessary to take separately what happens to the mother and what happens to the father.
Anyone who comes to consult sometimes does so for a specific subject (doubts of being a mother or not, anxiety during pregnancy, loss of a baby, post-partum depression, etc.) or does so because of a discomfort that cannot be be located. And what we observe in many cases is that in addition to this uneasiness in the face of the circumstances, other complexities of his character seem to overlap.
What is this specific help?
There are different possibilities to be accompanied at these times. Be accompanied by analytical listeningIn addition to keeping the circumstances in mind and reducing the anxiety, and being able to go through the situation with the greatest serenity, it is also a bet to investigate the relationship, a strange relationship, that we have. with oneself. And in this way, resources that we never knew we had will emerge, and the trends and repeats that have guided our lives as if they were a destination will be revealed.
It is active listening that it allows the person to calm down so as not to be able to find a meaning, to be able to put feelings into words that they were only heard and that no exact word was found to name them, and also to be able to make a hole for which there is no explanation.
Psychoanalytic treatment is indicated to identify what is happening, to be able to make decisions, to stop or to continue, but sure to be able to move on with life. It is very ineffective to console yourself with such popular phrases or phrases, such as “it happens to a lot of people” or “you can’t go wrong if you have just had a baby” or a loss is devoted to. have another child.
We cannot lose sight of what a woman who becomes a mother can experience, it can harm the relationship with your partner, the newborn or other people you have. Keeping this in mind is very important in locating the problem.
Pregnancy and the birth of a child is a rich period during which many changes occur: physical changes, changes of position (from wife to mother, from being the daughter of her mother to the mother of his baby). It can also be a time when unresolved conflicts are reactivated (Like the relationship between the woman and her parents, especially with the mother). Or if there is the loss of a baby, debilitating grief may be linked to another previous unresolved grief. It is also a time when everything related to femininity can falter.
And it’s not just that behind an overt demand, there can be another complexity that seems to overlap. In addition, psychoanalysis opens up a space for being able to recognize and tolerate normal feelings of frustration, anxiety, ambivalence, personal demands and idealizations, which often go unnoticed.
I leave you with a brief illustration of two simple cases.
Lucia went to therapy after the birth of her second child. The pregnancy, childbirth and the first few moments had gone well and I was happy. But there was something that didn’t allow him to take advantage of the fact that they were now a family of four. It took several sessions to be able to clarify that she was identified with her mother – who had also had two children – and that she was living as her original family would and not as they would.
Sandra came to therapy because she was looking for a child and was not getting pregnant, and was starting to consider assisted reproduction treatments. From the start, Sandra’s extreme dependence on her mother became evident, and over the sessions it became clear that the desire to be a mother was a desire of her own mother who yearned to have a grandson. Sandra decided to stop with everything and give herself some time.