The journey of parenthood, from efforts to conceive, delivery and caring for a newborn does not often go the way we dreamed it would be.

Becoming pregnant, giving birth and becoming a mother for the first time, has enormous impacts on women of all ages. Regardless of socioeconomic status or culture, women experience a variety of psychological stresses and changes. In spite of a mother-to-be’s longing for a child, she may find herself feeling fearful and sad during her pregnancy or after delivery.

Pregnancy is a time when a positive connection between mind and body can make a world of difference. Your outlook can influence your overall experience of pregnancy. Dr. Cherwony helps new mothers reduce their fear during and/or after pregnancy and helps to strengthen the bonds between newborn and mother.

Pregnancy is a drastic life change, full of growth, enrichment, and challenge. The combination of the fluctuations in hormones, changes to one’s physical body along with shifting body image, as well as cultural and individual expectations all play a role in creating a woman’s own unique experience.

For many, pregnancy is a time when you confront your fears and expectations about becoming a parent. You may also begin reading books and talking to other parents. Regardless of whether the pregnancy was planned, unexpected, or after many long awaited years of trying, parenthood causes psychological changes in both mothers and fathers. According to The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), between 14-23% of women will struggle with symptoms of pregnancy depression or maternal depression.

During the critical period of fetal development, many parents-to-be experience anxiety about maintaining their pregnancy and having a healthy baby.

Moms may be having pregnancy symptoms such as nausea that make their daily functioning seem challenging. As the pregnancy progresses, the anxiety may reduce and is often replaced by an increase in emotions. For women who have experienced previous miscarriages or loss during pregnancy, their anxiety may be heightened throughout pregnancy. As one’s bodies begin changing, some may start to feel insecure with their weight gain and bodily changes. Approximately 10-15% of women may experience perinatal depression at any time during pregnancy. During the third trimester, it is normal to anticipate birth and delivery.

At this point, many moms have difficulty sleeping and often have intense or strange dreams. While the women are carrying the babies, fathers are also going through their own emotional and psychological changes. Some may feel left out during the pregnancy or may become anxious about their ability to be a good father.

Approximately one out of every six couples experience fertility issues. For these individuals, the months and years of trying to conceive and maintain the pregnancy can be emotionally taxing and take a great toll on a marriage.

Whether a woman is a first-time mother or expecting another child, the process of nurturing and raising children is anxiety producing for any parent. Motherhood is an ongoing relationship, with all of its responsibilities and rewards.

Psychological concepts common among new moms:

• Control: The unfamiliar territory of pregnancy and early motherhood can leave women feeling that they have lost control over their lives. Along with a new baby comes a shift in focus from oneself to the needs of the growing baby.

• Support: Support from family and friends are very important at this time. For moms experiencing post natal depression or post partum depression, increase in support is an initial goal of treatment.

• Increase in depression or anxiety: Anxiety and depression after pregnancy is very common.

• Stress: The awaited day of bringing home the baby from the hospital is for many new parents also the time when they first realize that this infant will be completely dependent on them. This realization can quickly turn to a new parent anxiety, uncertainty and self-doubt.

• Pressure: Mothers often place enormous amounts of pressure on themselves to be perfect parents. As role models, they may be aware that others judge everything they say or do, especially as children enter school and interact socially with other groups of children. Women often set impossibly high standards for themselves, leading some to feel a sense of failure for not maintaining these unrealistic standards.

• Isolation: Some new mothers may feel isolated from old friends and family members who don’t have children, leaving them feeling left out of gatherings, events and social opportunities they enjoyed previously. This situation may be especially true of single mothers.

• Superwoman syndrome: Women today feel that they should fulfill and exceed all personal and societal expectations as a woman and a mother. Motherhood is already stressful without this added and unhealthy stress.

Talking about how you are feeling, learning healthy ways of managing your stress, and learning healthy relaxation strategies can greatly reduce your fear, improve your perception of your pregnancy and parenthood, as well as overall wellness during this time.

Dr. Cherwony offers moms and dads a safe place to discuss their struggles. She helps parents learn how to nurture themselves, as they care for their children. Parents must promote their own well-being in order to both enjoy and provide good leadership and role-modeling for their children.