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Pregnant

Areas of Expertise ~ Perinatal Mental Health & Trauma

Trauma

I work with clients who have been traumatised by all kinds of challenging experiences. Trauma is how someone responds to an event, not the event itself, therefore it's subjective and what may be traumatising for one, may not be for another.  It doesn't have to be something that we expect like an assault, car crash or war. It may be an unexpected bereavement, acrimonious divorce or domestic abuse. 

 

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a distressing condition for anyone, but for women experiencing birth trauma there are extra factors which make it particularly difficult. Even those who are not diagnosed with PTSD may still experience some symptoms of it that have a significant impact on their daily life.  Sometimes partners experience birth trauma too – about 1% of partners develop PTSD after witnessing a traumatic birth and because partners are often not asked about their mental health after birth, their need for psychological support can go unnoticed, I support partners too! 

Those who have experienced birth trauma can face challenges in forming a bond with their baby. Following a traumatic birth, It's not uncommon for mothers and babies to be separated because of either maternal illness or neonatal complications. Mothers may undergo caesarean sections under general anaesthetic, meaning that they are absent during the initial moments of their baby's arrival. This early separation frequently triggers a sense of loss, as these women mourn the absence of initial interactions with their little one.

 

Emotional responses vary from feelings of guilt and perceived inadequacy to a sense of detachment from their baby which can manifests as a disconnection from the expected happy sentiments associated with motherhood. However, some individuals may exhibit heightened levels of anxiety, incessantly monitoring their baby and a reluctance to let others help out with childcare.  

A traumatic birth can make parents reluctant to try for another baby, so many women with birth trauma stop at one child. A subsequent pregnancy can also reawaken the trauma of the first birth.

 

Reminders of the birth, such as medical appointments or even the sight of another woman with a new born baby, can trigger flashbacks or intrusive thoughts. For this reason, women can avoid contact with hospitals, medical professionals or  new mothers. This can lead to isolation and a detrimental effect on health.

EMDR is an effective treatment for birth trauma and can make an enormous difference in reducing or eradicating distressing symptoms enabling women to enjoy new parenthood. 

Eye Movement, Desensitisation & Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR therapy is an 8 phased, focused approach to treating trauma & other symptoms by reconnecting the traumatised person in a safe & measured environment to the images, negative cognitions, emotions, and body sensations associated with the trauma & allowing the natural healing powers of the brain to move toward adaptive resolution.  EMDR is administered using bilateral stimulation of the brain by a variety of ways including side to side eye movements, tapping or alternating audio which replicates what happens when we experience REM sleep which facilitates processing aiding resolution.

“I first went to see Julie having recently lost my Mum in a very traumatic way. I was having the most horrendous flashbacks and nightmares which were adding to my grief as well as not really functioning due to lack of sleep and anxiety about actually going to sleep. A good friend of mine suggested I look for someone who practiced EMDR as it was recognised as a very effective method of treating trauma.  From the start of the process, bearing in mind I was at my most vulnerable, Julie was amazing. She took her time to listen to my story making me feel heard in a safe space. Still to this day, I don’t really understand how EMDR works, the process was sometimes exhausting, also hugely freeing but most importantly, IT WORKED! I had literally tried everything, talked to numerous professionals to try and get help for the flashbacks and up until this point, nothing had worked. This did. I can thoroughly recommend Julie and EMDR as I truly believe my healing process could have gone on for years if it wasn’t for Julie’s help and I will be forever grateful.” ​

Published with client consent

Perinatal Anxiety

Perinatal anxiety is anxiety that you experience before or after giving birth.

If it's while you're pregnant, this is antenatal or prenatal anxiety. If it's in the year after giving birth, this is postnatal or postpartum anxiety. Some people may experience both.  If you are experiencing antenatal anxiety it may be for a variety of reasons.  Maybe you've experienced a previous loss or traumatic delivery or maybe you've heard lots of birth stories that have left you feeling worried. 

Having anxious thoughts and worries now and again is natural, particularly in the early postnatal weeks.  You may worry that something will happen to your baby or that you will do something "wrong". However, these feelings tend to get less intense as you start to get used to taking care of a new baby over the first few months. Postnatal anxiety is different in that it tends to be more distressing and persistent.  

I can support you to manage catastrophic thinking and learn strategies to calm your nervous system.

Baby Loss - Miscarriage, Stillbirth, Neonatal Death

Miscarriage and baby loss is never easy.  If you’ve been affected by miscarriage, molar pregnancy or ectopic pregnancy, or if you have lost a baby at any time, I hope that you are receiving support from family and friends, however, that is not always the case and you may need extra, professional support to help you through.

The loss of a pregnancy or baby can have a profound and long-standing impact on mental health.  You are invested in a baby from the first time you consider trying to have one, way before conception or pregnancy even begin.  This is why the gestation of your pregnancy or when you lose your baby do not correlate to the depth of your grief and/or despair.  Baby loss is a taboo subject that is little talked about, and you often find that you feel isolated as friends and family "move on" and can expect you to do the same.
 
I can support you to tread this delicate path of loss and mourning in a way that works for you, for as long as you need. 

Psychosexual Therapy

Some women experience perineal tears during childbirth.  Third and fourth degree perineal tears can cause symptoms such as urinary or fecal incontinence and sexual discomfort.  If the labour and birth were challenging or traumatic, this can also impact intimacy and some women develop a phobia of sex relating to the fear of pain or pregnancy.

If this sounds like you and you would like to get your sex-life back on track, I am Level 7 trained in psychosexual therapy and can support you to get back to the intimacy you crave and deserve.

My Approach

As a counsellor, my approach is integrative, combining various therapeutic techniques and modalities to tailor treatment to each client's unique needs and circumstances. This approach benefits you as a client in several ways. Firstly, it allows for a personalised and flexible treatment plan that can adapt to your changing needs over time. By drawing from different theories and techniques such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), Transactional Analysis, mindfulness practices, Gestalt approaches and EMDR I can offer a holistic perspective that addresses all aspects of your concerns. This comprehensive approach fosters deeper self-awareness, promotes insight into underlying issues, and facilitates meaningful and sustainable change. You will also benefit from having a range of tools and strategies at your disposal as we build your own unique took kit to support you in your daily life, empowering you to develop coping skills, enhance self-regulation, and build resilience. Overall, an integrative counselling approach recognises the uniqueness of us all and aims to provide a supportive and effective therapeutic experience that promotes growth, healing, and well-being.

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My Approach
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