Mindful Motherhood: How Psychotherapy Support Can Help New Moms Navigate the Joys and Challenges of MotherhoodJanuary 29, 2023 By Anna Svetchnikov, LMFT
Becoming a mother is a unique and transformative experience that brings joy and fulfillment, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. From physical changes to emotional struggles, the postpartum period can be overwhelming for new moms. In this article, we’ll explore how psychotherapy support can help new moms navigate the joys and challenges of motherhood with mindfulness and resilience.
“One day at a time, concentrate on the positives.“– Anna Svetchnikov, LMFT
As a therapist, I encourage new moms to take it one day at a time and to concentrate on the positives of motherhood. By focusing on the present and finding gratitude for the little things, we can build a foundation of resilience and self-compassion.
The Mindful Motherhood Approach
Mindful motherhood is an approach that emphasizes present-moment awareness, acceptance, and self-compassion in the face of the challenges of motherhood. Rather than striving for perfection or comparing themselves to others, mindful moms practice self-care and self-compassion, embrace imperfection, and focus on building a strong bond with their children.
Research has shown that mindfulness practices can be helpful for new moms who are navigating the challenges of motherhood. One study found that mindfulness-based interventions were effective in reducing symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety in new moms (Sockol et al., 2011). Another study found that mindfulness-based interventions were effective in improving maternal sensitivity and the mother-child relationship (Waqas et al., 2023).
Some of the common challenges that mindful moms face include:
- Coping with postpartum depression and anxiety: Psychotherapy can help new moms identify and manage symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety and develop healthy coping strategies.
- Navigating relationship strain: Psychotherapy can help new moms strengthen their communication and coping skills, which can strengthen relationships with partners, family, and friends.
- Developing self-awareness and self-compassion: Psychotherapy can help new moms develop a greater sense of self-awareness, self-compassion, and mindfulness, which can improve their overall well-being and ability to cope with stress.
- Cultivating a positive and realistic self-image: Psychotherapy can help new moms develop a more positive and realistic self-image and overcome feelings of self-doubt or insecurity.
Mindful Approaches to Psychotherapy for New Moms
There are several mindful approaches to psychotherapy that can be helpful for new moms, including:
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): ACT is a type of therapy that focuses on accepting difficult emotions and thoughts, rather than trying to suppress them, and taking action to move toward one’s values and goals.
- Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT): MBCT is a type of therapy that combines mindfulness techniques with cognitive-behavioral therapy to help new moms manage stress, anxiety, and depression.
- Compassion-focused therapy (CFT): CFT is a type of therapy that helps new moms develop self-compassion, self-acceptance, and kindness toward themselves and others.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): DBT is a type of therapy that teaches new moms mindfulness skills, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.
Research has shown that these approaches can be effective in improving the mental health and well-being of new moms. One study found that mindfulness-based interventions were effective in reducing symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety in new moms (Sockol et al., 2011). Another study found that CFT was effective in reducing symptoms of depression and improving self-compassion in new moms (Hollins Martin et al., 2021).
Tools for Mindful Motherhood
In addition to psychotherapy support, there are several tools that can be helpful for new moms who are navigating the challenges of motherhood:
- Mindful breathing: Taking a few deep breaths can help new moms calm their mind and body, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve their overall well-being. Research has shown that mindfulness practices, such as mindful breathing, can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety in new moms (Guardino et al., 2014).
- Gratitude journaling: Writing down things that you’re grateful for can help new moms cultivate a more positive and optimistic outlook, even in the face of challenges. Try to write down three things each day that you’re grateful for. Research has shown that gratitude journaling can lead to improvements in mental health and well-being (Wood et al., 2010).
- Self-care routines: Taking care of yourself is essential for your well-being and ability to care for your baby. Develop a self-care routine that includes things like getting enough sleep, eating nutritious foods, exercising, and engaging in activities that you enjoy. Research has shown that self-care practices can improve maternal mental health and well-being (Farr et al., 2018).
- Building a support network: Having a support network of friends, family, and professionals can be essential for new moms who are navigating the challenges of motherhood. Reach out to others for support, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Research has shown that social support can be a protective factor against postpartum depression and anxiety (Goodman, 2009).
- Mindful parenting: Mindful parenting involves being present and attentive to your child’s needs, emotions, and behaviors, and responding with empathy and compassion. Try to be fully present when interacting with your child, and respond with kindness and understanding. Research has shown that mindful parenting practices can improve parent-child interactions and child outcomes (Bögels et al., 2014).
By incorporating these tools into your daily routine and seeking psychotherapy support when needed, you can develop the mindfulness and resilience needed to navigate the joys and challenges of motherhood.
Conclusion: Mindful motherhood is an approach that emphasizes present-moment awareness, acceptance, and self-compassion in the face of the challenges of motherhood. Psychotherapy support, along with mindful tools and practices, can be a valuable tool for new moms who are looking to cultivate mindfulness and resilience. By addressing emotional and psychological challenges through psychotherapy and incorporating mindful tools and practices into their daily routine, new moms can improve their mental health and well-being, strengthen relationships, and better adjust to their new roles as caregivers.
- Bögels, S. M., Hellemans, J., van Deursen, S., Römer, M., & van der Meulen, R. (2014). Mindful parenting in mental health care: Effects on parental and child psychopathology, parental stress, parenting, coparenting, and marital functioning. Mindfulness, 5(5), 536-551.
- Farr SL, Dietz PM, O’Hara MW, Burley K, Ko JY. Postpartum anxiety and comorbid depression in a population-based sample of women. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2014 Feb;23(2):120-8. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2013.4438. Epub 2013 Oct 26. PMID: 24160774; PMCID: PMC7469256.
- Goodman, J. H. (2009). Women’s attitudes, preferences, and perceived barriers to treatment for perinatal depression. Birth, 36(1), 60-69.
- Guardino CM, Dunkel Schetter C, Bower JE, Lu MC, Smalley SL. Randomised controlled pilot trial of mindfulness training for stress reduction during pregnancy. Psychol Health. 2014;29(3):334-49. doi: 10.1080/08870446.2013.852670. Epub 2013 Nov 1. PMID: 24180264; PMCID: PMC4160533.
- Hollins Martin, C. J., Beaumont, E., Norris, G., & Cullen, G. (2021). Teaching Compassionate Mind Training to help midwives cope with traumatic clinical incidents. British Journal of Midwifery, 29(1), https://www.britishjournalofmidwifery.com/content/professional/teaching-compassionate-mind-training-to-help-midwives-cope-with-traumatic-clinical-incidents/.
- Waqas A, Zafar SW, Akhtar P, Naveed S, Rahman A (2023). Optimizing cognitive and behavioral approaches for perinatal depression: A systematic review and meta-regression analysis. Cambridge Prisms: Global Mental Health,10, e22,1–14 https://doi.org/10.1017/gmh.2023.8
- Sockol LE, Epperson CN, Barber JP. A meta-analysis of treatments for perinatal depression. Clin Psychol Rev. 2011 Jul;31(5):839-49. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2011.03.009. Epub 2011 Mar 27. PMID: 21545782; PMCID: PMC4108991.
- Wood, A. M., Froh, J. J., & Geraghty, A. W. (2010). Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration. Clinical Psychology Review, 30(7), 890-905.
About The Author
Anna Svetchnikov, LMFT
With 15 years of rich experience in supporting individuals, couples, and families in navigating through life’s challenges and achieving their goals, Anna Svetchnikov, LMFT is a force to reckon with in the field of therapy. A certified trauma therapist, author, speaker, and presenter, Anna’s advocacy for mental health awareness and stigma reduction resonates in her professional pursuits.
About The Author
Anna Svetchnikov is an LMFT with over 15 years of experience in helping individuals, couples, and families overcome challenges and achieve their goals. As a certified trauma therapist, author, speaker, and presenter, Anna is dedicated to advocating for awareness and support for mental health concerns, while working towards reducing the associated stigma.