Updated: Jan 4, 2022
There is a noticeable silence There is a noticeable silence about the awkward, uncomfortable, or painful parts of pregnancy and birth. Counting baby’s tiny fingers and toes? Yes, you’ll see that in movies. But counting episiotomy stitches? Counting how long you can go before taking the dreaded post-birth poop? Not so much.
At Sage Tree Therapy, many of our clients are pregnant or have given birth — and we want you to know that any questions or stories that are important to you are fair game for discussing in therapy!
The majority of therapists who work at Sage Tree are moms ourselves, and we all have comprehensive training in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMAD). We are here to talk about the things that not enough people are talking about.
1. You might start having vivid sex dreams.
In pregnancy, your hormone levels change significantly, and the amount of blood in your body increases by 25%. Both of these factors can leave you much more in the mood, which may take you by surprise. (On the other hand, it’s also possible for your desire to decrease.) Because dreaming is also more common in pregnancy, this is quite a recipe for vivid sex dreams.
If you’re surprised or concerned about the dreams you’re having, you can always talk to your therapist about it. Otherwise, enjoy!
2. Your nipples will probably change. And your feet. And your balance. And practically everything else.
Your body is brilliant and surprising and will change in untold ways during pregnancy. For one, your nipples will darken (becoming like a little bullseye for baby) and you may even start to lactate before giving birth.
Other adventures? The hormone that helps your hips prepare for birth (aptly named relaxin) will also relax the ligaments in your hands and feet, increasing their size. Also, as your baby bump swells, your center of gravity will shift significantly. It can feel truly disorienting to navigate the world in the same old body that somehow feels completely new to you.
If you want to discuss and process what’s happening in your body and what it means to you, please do. No need to be shy talking with your therapist about physical changes. (And for what it’s worth, it’s likely the same changes have happened to literally billions of other people.)
3. You can’t fully control how your birth unfolds — but you can be clear on your preferences.
Every birth is an unknown path, but you can prepare beforehand by knowing your options. Where would you like to give birth? Would you like a doula? What approach would you like for pain management? Do you plan to circumcise your child?
As therapists, we don’t advocate for one style of birth plan over another; those are absolutely your decisions to make. But we can help walk you through various options, clarify your preferences, and discuss how to communicate them with your birthing team.
4. Why am I the one wearing an enormous diaper?!
You may have heard that the hospital will send you home with a water bottle. Why? It’s essentially a low-tech, highly portable bidet — very useful at a time when the idea of wiping seems like a nightmare. And those ginormous adult diapers? Enjoy the comfort! Take a few extra home from the hospital, we will not judge you!
Your body's most sensitive tissues have just parted to make way for a tiny (and yet enormous!) human being. And now you need to return to run-of-the-mill processes like waste removal, using those same muscles? Yikes. This can be a terrifying moment — and those fears should be more normalized.
Toilet talk is uncommon in our culture, but peeing and pooping are a vital part of your overall health. It’s OK to talk about it. As Fred Rogers once said, “Anything that's human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable.”
5. You may be “cleared” for intercourse and not actually want it.
It’s typical to be OKed for returning to intercourse four to eight weeks after giving birth. That has to do with the likelihood of infection and how your body’s tissues are healing — not with whether you actually feel ready for vaginal sex.
When and how you return to sexual intimacy is a decision for you to make on your own terms, on your own timeline. There can be a lot to unpack here, and your therapist can help you talk through what feels right for you.
We value sharing honest, accurate information with our clients and helping them find the answers they need. Every pregnancy and birth is different, and we’re here to help you find your way through these big transitions.
To get started with therapy with experts in perinatal mental health, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 314.485.SAGE.
We can respond to any questions and get you scheduled for an assessment appointment, which allows us to match you with one of our expert therapists.