Pregnancy and childbirth can be an exciting as well as a worrying time. Some women are faced with the question of whether or not they want to continue with their pregnancy, while others may be struggling with IVF treatments. Here, we outline the types of pregnancy-related issues you might be facing.
Abortion is the medical process of ending a pregnancy. There are many reasons why women may choose not to continue with a pregnancy. For some women, choosing to end their pregnancy may be a relatively simple and easy decision to reach. For others, it will be one of the most difficult choices they ever make.
The range of emotions surrounding an unplanned pregnancy are often what make the choice so difficult. It is these psychological factors, coupled with social and economic influences, that can sometimes lead to women feeling pressured into making a decision that is not entirely their own.
The practicalities of proceeding with or terminating a pregnancy need to be balanced with these emotional factors to ensure the right decision is made. It can be a stressful time, reinforced by feelings of isolation.
Counselling at the earliest stages can help an individual reach an informed choice that is right for the individual. Therapy is also helpful further down the line, sometimes years after an abortion, when residual complex feelings may need to be processed.
Whether you are an adoptee, an adoptive family, or the birthparent of a child who was adopted, the emotional impact of the adoption process is likely to be life-long. Though the experience of each individual involved is likely to vary, for many the journey will be a double-edged sword leading to both a great deal of happiness and an equal number of challenges.
As well as having a turbulent start in life, many children placed for adoption then have to spend months – sometimes years – in the care system. Being transferred back and forth with no real support from a ‘family’ unit can be traumatic for a child of any age, often leading to the development of behavioural, attachment and development issues that can follow an adoptee into adulthood.
Irrespective of the circumstances of the adoption or the personalities and backgrounds of all who are involved, the process more often than not triggers a series of responses that can have an impact on how you live your life.
If your life has been affected by adoption then it might be you are looking for some answers to specific questions, or you may just feel as though you require some additional support in your life. Recognising and acknowledging issues that are central to adoption and learning to understand and cope with them is something that Approved Adoption Counselling may be able to help you with.
IVF is an acronym for in vitro fertilization (‘in vitro’ meaning ‘in glass’). Simply put, IVF is adding a man’s sperm to his female partner’s eggs in the laboratory to produce embryos. IVF is an option for many couples who cannot conceive through conventional methods. These embryos are put back into the female partner’s uterus after three to five days in the incubator, with the hope that they will then grow into a baby.
Reasons for IVF include poor sperm quality or quantity, obstructions between the egg and sperm, ovulation problems, and sperm-egg interaction problems. These problems can prevent couples having a baby naturally, and IVF is an option to help solve this.
While the laboratory may deal with the physical side of things, there is also a mixing pot of emotions to deal with. Embarking on IVF can be an emotional rollercoaster for the couple. Years of trying for a longed-for baby can put a strain on the relationship. And, because there is no guarantee of success with IVF, feelings can often run high. Individual or couples therapy can help to work through these feelings and find ways of coping with anxieties, hopes and fears.
A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy that happens some time during the first 23 weeks. Around three quarters of miscarriages happen during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy (the first trimester). The main symptom of a miscarriage is vaginal bleeding, which may be followed by cramping and pain in your lower abdomen. If you have vaginal bleeding, contact your maternity team or early pregnancy unit at your local hospital straight away. You may also need treatment to remove any tissue that left in your womb.
While a miscarriage does not usually seriously affect a woman’s physical health, it can have a significant emotional impact. Many couples experience feelings of loss and grief that can last for quite some time. To the outside world, the baby wasn’t ‘real’ and therefore the couple are often expected to ‘get over’ the loss and move on. For most women, a miscarriage is a one-off event and they go on to have a successful pregnancy in the future. For others, it is a traumatic event that creates scars that take a long time to heal. Miscarriages can even lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, that take a long time to heal.
Pregnancy and Childbirth
Never is a woman more in need of emotional and psychological support than when she discovers she is pregnant. Pregnancy and the prospect of childbirth are most often an occasion for happiness. However, few women get through the whole process without some degree of anxiety. For some, pregnancy can be an endurance test of nausea, exhaustion and even depression.
Therapy can help provide you with the emotional support you through your pregnancy, whether you’re giving birth for the first time, or integrating another child into the family unit.
Sex After Childbirth
Returning to your sex life after giving birth can be a source of worry. Many women feel a mixture of emotions as they think about the transformation their life has undergone: pride and happiness for the baby, but possibly some sadness for the loss of pre-pregnancy life.
Resuming your sex-life may take time. You may feel ready within weeks, or you may not feel ready for months. Every woman is different, so don’t feel pressurised or worry that you’re not normal. This is a time of huge readjustment as you learn to live with, and tune into, your new baby’s needs. It’s completely normal if sex isn’t high on your agenda. Exhaustion is common due to broken sleep and the increased demands on your time, which can have a huge impact on how “in the mood” you feel.
If you do feel ready, you don’t have to wait until after your six-week check. It is advisable to wait until the post-birth bleeding has stopped (often 10–14 days, but it can continue for several weeks). This is because your uterus is still healing and if you have sex before the bleeding has stopped there’s a possibility that you could introduce an infection.
If you fear your desire for sex is not returning then psychosexual therapy could be an option for you to explore the physical and emotional aspects of your post-pregnancy libido.