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What does a perinatal psychologist do and when to go to her?

The process of searching for a new life, and bringing it into the world, is revolutionary in every way. Motherhood is revolutionary , and so is the process that is experienced when it does not arrive with such a strong desire that it does.

Given this reality, it is easy to think that women and their families require specific attention to take care of their mental health and emotional well-being , and for this reason the figure of the perinatal psychologist exists.

As we will see, this professional accompanies very different processes in the life of a woman and her partner, and all of them involve life, but in some cases, also death.

What does a perinatal psychologist do and when to go to her? We tell you.

Perinatal Psychology: what is it?

Perinatal Psychology, according to the Perinatal Psychology Association , is a branch or specialization of psychology that deals with prevention, care, support, diagnosis and intervention in families throughout the process that precedes (and follows) ) at birth.

Thus, it encompasses both the search for pregnancy and conception, pregnancy, childbirth, puerperium or postpartum, breastfeeding if it occurs and the first years of child rearing.

All this, taking into special consideration the establishment of a healthy bond between the mother, the baby and the family.

Infertility, assisted reproduction and grief

However, it not only accompanies the process of pregnancy and life, but also, when that pregnancy is not caused by fertility problems ( and the woman or the couple is, for example, undergoing assisted reproduction treatment , with all the stress it produces).

Finally, it also accompanies women who have suffered pregnancy losses (abortions) and who are in the process of perinatal mourning.

The accompaniment to life and death

That is why she is such an important and transversal figure, because she accompanies women and families both when life arrives and when death arrives, that is, at very key moments in their lives .

And reflecting this fact, Patricia Valseca, a perinatal psychologist, says this about her profession:

“It is one of the few therapies in which I have felt that I accompany the patient in a process that generates life or death, like the two sides of the same coin, which does not stop turning and you do not know which one is going to touch you.”

Prevent problems and promote mental health

The figure of the perinatal psychologist is also responsible for early detection of unfavorable signs for the mother-baby dyad before and after birth, something that is essential for the well-being and health of the mother and the baby.

That is, it can prevent mental health problems and address them before they arise.

Thus, indirectly, it is also focused on promoting mental health in relation to conception, pregnancy, childbirth, puerperium and parenting.

Perinatal psychology: the importance of interdisciplinary work

The follow-up of pregnancy (and of non-pregnancy when it does not arrive and is desired with all the strength that it arrives), must be approached from an interdisciplinary perspective, which includes, beyond the figure of the perinatal psychologist, a medical professional, psychiatry , nursing , midwives, auxiliaries and social services.

All this will make it possible to create a space for early detection and preventive action for those situations that require emotional support for both women and their families.

Situations that could lead to other medical or psychological difficulties, and that we must attend to as professionals .

Why is perinatal psychology important?

Women deserve accompaniment in such a revolutionary time, full of physical, hormonal, emotional and also cognitive changes. Because situations arise from this time that are not always easy to manage.

In addition, the perinatal psychologist fulfills another important function, which is to establish a good bond between the mother and the baby , or between the woman and her mourning process, if it occurs. And, on the other hand, always according to the Perinatal Psychology Association , it helps to lay the foundations for a healthy psychic structure.

That the perinatal psychologist can intervene in this sensitive period for the psychic development of women is the best preventive work that can be done at the level of mental health.

Meritxell Sánchez Costa, perinatal, trauma and grief psychologist, and founding member of the Perinatal Psychology Association , adds the following about this discipline:

“It can help create a space for reflection on psychological events in the perinatal area, reflect on the iatrogenic effect (unwanted effects) of certain interventions, raise awareness and train professionals on the management of highly stressful situations.”

And in addition, it also highlights the work of working with groups of families so that the necessary social links are woven to create a network from all areas where perinatal mental health is promoted.

Perinatal psychologist: when to go to her?

It is evident that the decision to go to a psychologist is very personal, and each person must evaluate their case, situation, need, possibility…

However, there are some warning signs that we can take into account and that will guide us when making this decision, such as:

  • Have noticeable anxiety symptoms
  • Feeling that the situation is beyond us
  • Being just as bad for weeks (feeling like we’re not getting better)
  • Experiencing a feeling of deep loneliness
  • Seeing ourselves unable to care for our baby
  • Believing that we have developed postpartum depression
  • The day to day is very difficult for us and we can not “work”

In what situations can a perinatal psychologist help us?

  • In the transition from perinatal grief
  • During pregnancy search
  • During pregnancy, with all the changes that this entails
  • During postpartum depression
  • After a traumatic birth or if you have suffered obstetric violence

For this reason, if you feel that you need help, because you are going through a difficult moment, be it during your search for pregnancy, puerperium, etc., we encourage you to ask for professional help. Remember that you are not alone, and that you deserve this emotional support.

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