birth trauma and perinatal mental health

I wish motherhood was talked about for the very hard relentless bits

but instead, women often feel unable to speak about the difficulties of pregnancy, birth, and parenthood which at times can be unbearable.

AN EVERYDAY MIRICLE

Having a baby is something society conditions us to look forward to and we often prepare for it with exciting anticipation. However, for many, pregnancy, new parenthood or the birth of a baby causes unbearable anxiety and trauma. It can be hard and sometimes impossible to process these emotions alone.  

 

HAPPINESS?

There's a new baby and people tell the parent/s that they should be happy however sometimes this feels impossible. Parents are often left wondering if they should speak of their difficulties. What is not often talked about is that the journey to and into new parenthood is a time that may cause intense unhappiness. 

 

SECRET PAIN

Feelings like this are very common and many families go through these experiences. Yet, somehow like so much that surrounds the trauma that can be part of the process of having children it forces uncomfortable secrecy.

 

Birth and pregnancy is a hugely emotional time and has the ability to cause overwhelming psychological pain which people are usually unprepared for. People may suffer physically, emotionally and mentally and depression is common.

BIRTH?

Instead of being a joyful happy occasion the experience of giving birth may have been frightening. Following traumatic birth parents may struggle to bond with their baby, feeling ashamed of their thoughts which may make them feel inadequate and anxious. 

MOTHERHOOD?

Becoming a mother changes your life entirely and the reality of motherhood is often in stark contrast to expectations. The impact of this upon us should never be underestimated or minimised.  

INVISIBILITY

SHE HAS BEEN AN AMAZING MOTHER TODAY, yet it might never feel enough. Finding the words to describe the invisible tasks a mother does in a day can be difficult. Mothering is such a mammoth task often made of a myriad of minuscule and intangible things that can go completely unnoticed. The mother does so much and can lose herself in mothering and yet often gets to the end of the day feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and as if she has not achieved a thing,  The reality of being a mother is often so different from what people expect and can be accompanied by intense feelings of guilt, shame, and hopelessness. 

WHY ART THERAPY

Art therapy can help to confront what can at times feel to be a consistently hurtful message that you should be happy in pregnancy and motherhood. Sometimes pain can be so great that there are no actual words to explain what it feels like. Art therapy can help to give voice to what feels unspeakable. The words may not ever come but what is made can help to convey the depth of emotions felt which can make the search for words unnecessary.

It is normal to feel like words feel powerless in describing the intense emotions which can occur. It is difficult to process traumatic events and difficult emotions sometimes we need help to do this. Art making can begin to make feelings tangible. Art can establish rituals or ways to grieve and process and put to rest your expectations and trauma.

 

 

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Asha Munn BFA, MA 

Art Psychotherapist (Masters Art Psychotherapy Practice, UK)

Artist (Bachelor of Fine Arts, Elam, NZ)

Health and Care Professions Council. UK Registration No. AS14856

British Association of Art Therapists registered (UK)

Australia and NZ Association of Art Therapists registered (NZ)

Restorative Justice Facilitator - Auckland Restorative Justice Trust

Accredited Domestic Violence Facilitator 

All art work shared here is done so with the permission of the magnificent artists I have worked with over the years