Becoming a new mum involves a variety of emotions which can range from feeling contentment to excitement or anxiety. It is unknown territory and everyone deals with change differently. For some time there was an expectation that new mums should automatically know what to do and how to do it as millions of women have babies every week. Then came the era of expert books, information about a certain way to feed your baby, a certain way to put your baby to sleep, organic versus non-organic and so on. Then there is the thinking that it’s supposed to be a natural process that somehow switches on when you become pregnant. It's not surprising that it can all be overwhelming.
For some mums it takes time to bond and build an attachment and there can be an underlying feeling of failure and guilt if this is the case. Many women experience anxiety during and after pregnancy due to the many changes that occur from a physical, psychological and social perspective. This experience is normal for most new mums at some point.
Negotiating these new changes can evoke anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed. It is very important to care for yourself and trust your instincts; mums need to be nurtured too.
Supporting women who experience Mental Health difficulties is necessary for maternal health and the health and welfare of baby. Mental Health conditions during and after pregnancy can affect anyone, regardless of their background. As a society there is now more discussion about maternal mental health during and after pregnancy, which is welcome.
A mums understanding and ability to respond to their baby’s feelings is crucial to their development and wellbeing. To support and enhance this process both mum and baby can be supported in a therapeutic process whereby both have their needs met. The emphasis is on the therapist gently guiding the mum so that she can find her own strength and confidence and is supported in her choices as a parent.
As a mum you will know your baby best and there will be challenges that you will figure out yourself – trusting your own instincts goes a long way. There may also be times that you may need some support if, for example, there are some aspects of your baby’s development that you are unsure about.
When getting to know your baby, one of the areas that is paramount to your baby’s development is bonding with you as the parent. This is very important to a baby’s development and attachment. It is through contact with you and others that your baby learns about the world that surrounds them and how secure they feel in that world as they get older. For example, when your baby is 2 weeks old they know your voice and they can recognise your scent. Your baby can see you best at a distance of about 20-30 centimeters and most of all they like to look at faces. Your baby is continually trying to communicate with you at every oppportunity he/she gets by:
- Making Sounds
- Pointing at objects
to name a few. You can support your baby’s development and attachment by following and looking to your baby so that you can see what your baby is interested in and what is essentially going on in their world.
From the moment your baby is born, communication begins by your baby turning to follow your gaze, making sounds and moving his head, hands and feet.
You can support your baby’s development and attachment by naming what your baby is looking at, therefore your baby knows you are present and interested in their ideas from the beginning. By putting words on what your baby is looking at you are also supporting their language development from a very early age.
My name is Triona Elliott and I am a Mental Health Practitioner with Strive Clinic in Donegal. I am also a Marte Meo Therapist and I have 20 years of experience working with children, adolescents and their families in the area of mental health. I have a great interest in Maternal Mental Health and infant/child development.
In my role at Strive Clinic, I aim to support you as a mum through the various developmental stages that your baby will be experiencing such as the physical, cognitive and emotional stages. My goal is to provide positive support and clear, concrete information to you in relation to all aspects of your baby’s development whilst also helping you to achieve a healthy state of wellbeing.
If you would like more information or support in relation to your baby’s development or your own Mental Health I would be more than happy to meet with you and your baby.