When I’m working with an expecting mother in my Old Saybrook office, we try to anticipate what our schedule might look like once the baby comes. We try to get creative – taking walks with the baby while we get our session in, bringing the baby to therapy, getting childcare so she can have an hour to herself – those are all feasible options to ensure we can continue our work together.
But let’s get real... I’ve had a newborn and I know that its a circus act just to get you and your babe out the door. Both physically, as healing from birth is no joke, and logistically, as you scurry around making sure you’ve got every last thing you need to tend to the ever-changing diapering, feeding, mess-making, paci-sucking needs of your new, adorable tiny tyrant.
So today I want to share with you why meeting by video can be a game changer for new moms. Locally, here on the shoreline, I know there are many moms who want to see a therapist after they deliver but put it off because, (again let’s be real) mom’s needs end up falling wayyyyy below baby’s needs. **Cue a sigh and yawn from this mom of a toddler**.
It’s also a great option for new moms who live farther away but still want to work with me from a distance. I see moms who live in New York City, Philadelphia, and lots of other spots where it simply wouldn’t be realistic for us to ever meet in person. Basically, video therapy is an awesome option for anyone who wishes to work with a certain provider when there are barriers to meeting in person.
Read on to learn why meeting online with a therapist in your post-partum period can be a serious life saver.
You don’t have to leave the house: When you have a newborn, its an unpredictable schedule.... Waiiiiit – no – actually, there IS NO SCHEDULE. You spend your day morphing like an amoeba to meet whatever need your baby is putting into the universe at that given moment. I remember creeping Stella into the Rock n Play, praying she wouldn't notice she was no longer in my arms, then simultaneously praying she would just NOT NEED ANYTHING for 30 minutes -- then frantically rushing to pump, wash every bottle and its tiny little parts, and sure enough, just as I started dreaming of a quick shower, I’d start to hear a little fuss coming from the rocker. Nooooo! Why!!! I remember being super angry at that suggestion that I “sleep when the baby sleeps.” What? I think you meant to suggest I “do everything when the baby sleeps”!
What makes video therapy great for new moms is that you can pop onto the video by your computer, tablet, or even your phone, and engage in your therapy session no matter what’s going on around you. Baby in the rocker? Super. Baby strapped to your chest? No problem. Baby getting fed? All good. Baby getting swung in your arms while you and your therapist both do a chant to the powers-that-be that his colick stops yesterday? Yep, yep, and yep. Whatever is happening at home will not interfere with your session beyond perhaps taking a slight pause to readjust.
Counseling is an escape from the comparison trap: I don’t know about you, but motherhood entered me into a new exclusive club… at first (like day 1 & 2) it was cool to be a member. Then I started realizing it seemed like the club had its own ever-changing rules depending on who I was talking to. Ack! I often felt mildly on the defensive as I fielded questions and conversations about breastfeeding till forever, whose baby slept better, daycare versus cutting back to spend more time at home… and on and on. Wait! I wasn’t enjoying these conversations! After all, wasn’t this stuff all an individual choice? Couldn’t we just live and let live?
The truth is, once you have a child, no topic seems to be off the table. You’re getting everyone’s projections about what they think is right for your kid (read: what they think is/was right for their kid). This can be a lot to take when simply being a mom gives you enough to manage and think about. Moms hold a lot of self-judgment, guilt, and constant self-questioning that results from fielding everyone else’s ideas and expectations about what it means to be a mom.
While this can take a lot of getting used to – (I’m still working on the right response to the never ending inquiry of “when are you going to have a second?”) the truth is that therapy is your private and protected space to air out the choices you’re making, to feel confident about them, and regain the stability you have in knowing you’re doing the right thing for yourself and your baby. Friends and family want to give you that space, but it’s just so danged hard to be truly neutral when everyone has their thoughts and feelings about whats best for kids. Therapy gives that neutral space that is absolutely free of judgment.
Video counseling will be there to help you through a time of big physical and emotional changes: think about it – your body just spent the last 9 months successfully growing another creature. Your body has been delicately adjusting its hormones and physiological conditions to ensure that it can support this new life. When you give birth, your body experiences a kind of hormonal crash.
Postpartum anxiety, depression, increased tearfulness and fearfulness, obsessive thoughts, as well as general emotional difficulties with the adjustment to parenthood are all incredibly common and often quite normal. But treating these issues and addressing them is IMPORTANT. Pay attention to what you feel happening in you, take any feedback from your partner or family and friends seriously if they’re observing any changes or suggesting you find support, and take care of yourself during this time. You can read my article on postpartum mood changes here, as well as how to manage postpartum anxiety and depression here.
Your relationship can use the support and outlet: the post-partum period is a time of immense transition for couples. Suddenly all that energy and attention you used to focus on each other is being redirected to your child (read my article on "The Parenting Trap" here). While having a baby is certainly a joy to couples, there is no doubt that it changes the dynamic. I often work with moms to explore and mitigate the changing expectations and feelings they are having toward and with their partner.
You want to make sure that you and your partner can weather the unexpected storm of child-rearing. Therapy helps moms have a sounding board for their exhaustion, resentments, emotional labor, and communication challenges in their relationship. Furthermore, we can find better coping skills, new lines of communication, and solid ways to productively move through those new difficulties. After all, when the kids are finally all grown, you want to be in a place where you ideally still turn to your partner with love, connection, and commitment.
Well, that's all for now...
BONUS REASON: Adult Contact! Spending day in and day out on your own, with just the concerns and interactions of little-ones, can wreak serious havoc on mom's sense of connection to other adults! I often hear that therapy is an hour of adult sanity in what is otherwise an environment that often resembles a zoo. I say Cheers to that! Many moms take a huge amount of respite and refuge in the hour they spend talking to another understanding, supportive adult... aka: a counselor.
All in all, whether you live in Old Saybrook or greater CT, are a city mom in New York (shout out to my old neighborhood, the UWS, where Stella was born!), or live anywhere else, I hope this article has been helpful in shedding light on the ways video therapy can help support new moms during the post-partum phase. To clarify, the post-partum period isn’t just the couple months after birth. It extends through the entire year post-birth, and often there are effects seen in the years beyond that period.
There is no bad time to start seeing a therapist to get that extra bit of connection, support, and insight you need to begin to feel more sane and like yourself again. Most therapists do not offer video therapy, but many do. I've offered video therapy since the beginning because I never want to let logistics get in the way of you getting the care you need.
If you’re wondering a bit more about video therapy, you can click here for more information about what it’s like to work together online. If you have more questions, please reach out to me by text or phone at 860-339-6515 or schedule a complimentary consultation by clicking here.
Lauren L. Drago, MSEd, LMHC, LPC is a women's therapist and counselor, providing individual counseling in Old Saybrook, CT and online in greater CT, NY & PA. She specializes in working with smart, insightful and capable women to overcome stress, anxiety, loss of identity, self-limiting beliefs, perfectionism, marriage strain, and the pressure of "trying to do it all." Lauren has a passion for helping others to achieve the happy, fulfilling, productive, and meaningful life they deserve. She believes that every woman can and should live out her personal definition of her own best life. Call (860) 339-6515 to schedule your free initial consultation.