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In Consultation: The Motherhood Marathon - Page 2


Of course, a mother may have issues unrelated to being a parent, and these should be addressed in the ordinary course of therapy. But for those women who are having difficulty coping with the changes brought on by motherhood, here are five ways a therapist can help a mother cope with stress, lift her mood, stay energetic, and build teamwork and intimacy with her mate.

Honor her journey. Motherhood can feel like a roller coaster, with its unavoidable difficulties downplayed by others and increasingly hidden behind the required "mask of the contented mother." Exploring her journey helps a mother make sense of it, feel understood, and see that its bumpy parts aren't her fault.

My client may take several sessions to explore her original dreams about raising a family, the decision to have a child, the pregnancy and birth, the first months with a new baby, and life since then. I'll normalize the ups and downs and point out her strengths and coping skills. In particular, I'll support her in taking good care of herself. Many mothers think that's selfish and are helped by being given explicit reasons for doing so, such as: "It's good for your kids. It's good for your marriage. And your needs matter in their own right."

Ask about her health. Mothers commonly report multiple pregnancies, extended breastfeeding, sleepless nights, poor nutrition, little exercise, chronic stress, and hormonal irregularities. These factors contribute to psychological symptoms; motherhood is a profound illustration of the mind-body connection.


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