Anticipating childbirth can be daunting, especially given the 'horror stories' that are commonly told. Each woman brings her own expectations, fears, past experiences, and concerns to an impending birth. Anticipation of the unknown can be stressful, and some women hold a particularly fearful narrative of childbirth which can be associated with negative messages received from their own mothers (or other people), knowing someone who has experienced a traumatic birth, having had a previous traumatic experience, or having had a high-risk pregnancy. Other factors can be at play that contribute to high levels of anxiety around birth. Psychologists at the Antenatal and Postnatal Psychology Network assist women (and their partners) to deal with fear surrounding childbirth, and to prepare mentally for childbirth in a more positive way.
Some women experience childbirth as traumatic, and seek assistance to process the emotions associated with the experience. This can involve dealing with losses around how they thought the birth would be, and working on managing fear and anxiety surrounding their baby's ongoing safety and future pregnancy. Partners can also be affected by a traumatic childbirth, often reporting having felt helpless and fearful. In many cases, partners put on a brave face for the new mother, minimizing their own trauma as a result. Counselling can be helpful to assist partners in processing such feelings.
Gender disappointment can be experienced by some new parents, which is something that women (and men) can struggle to deal with alone. There can be shame around not feeling happy about having a healthy baby. However, there are many and varied reasons why new parents might have wished for a baby of a particular sex. With these feelings being difficult to talk about (usually for fear of judgement), new parents can seek to process their disappointment (and what it means) by consulting a compassionate, non-judgemental therapist - while building a bond with the baby that they've had.
New parents whose babies are born prematurely can experience a range of difficult emotions at this time, and during the days, weeks or months after birth. It can be particularly difficult when their babies are in Neonatal Intensive Care, with uncertain futures. Worry and anxiety can be ongoing, even after babies have been brought home. Counselling can be helpful to process the experience and manage ongoing difficulties.