When Does the Perinatal Period Start and End?

I provide Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR), and Schema Therapy, in person and remotely via Microsoft Teams or over the phone. My work is guided by the belief that one of the best things we can do as parents is prioritise our own mental health, work through issues, and heal from trauma. Not only do we deserve to experience emotional wellness ourselves, but it’s also up to us to reduce the impact of our problems on our children. But what about the perinatal bit? What does this term mean, and does it apply to you?

The Perinatal Period - A Textbook Definition

Officially, the perinatal period is defined as being from when conception occurs to one year postnatal. Mental health professionals recognise that during the perinatal period, birthing people and their partners/carers of the child are vulnerable to experiencing mental ill health. This is partly because pregnancy can be a worrying time but also because of the many changes that occur physically, emotionally, and practically. Research shows during the perinatal period we are more vulnerable to the development of anxiety and/or mood disorders than at any other time in our lives.

An Alternative View

Textbook definitions are helpful, but they don’t necessarily paint a full picture. My personal view is that the perinatal period starts as soon as you begin to think about having a baby.

People who encounter problems while trying to conceive are at risk of developing low mood, anxiety and even trauma symptoms. Those who require help to conceive {for example, via IVF} are also vulnerable. They can be affected by stress, low mood, anxiety, trauma, self-blame and self-criticism. People who have previously experienced implantation failure, miscarriage or the loss of a baby are particularly susceptible to these things and may find themselves struggling long before conception occurs.

I also believe the perinatal period is ongoing. You don't just magically stop being vulnerable to perinatal mental health problems one year after birth. This is especially true after the last few years when everyone’s experience of pregnancy, birth and new parenthood has been greatly impacted by the COVID19 pandemic.

The Benefits of My Approach

I specialise in supporting mums and mums-to-be on their journey to and through motherhood. Obviously, the ‘official’ perinatal period is a very vulnerable time for the development of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. But I believe this vulnerability remains as we travel further into motherhood and start facing different challenges.

As your therapist, I want to approach things from your perspective. You get to decide when the perinatal period starts and ends, NOT a textbook! I’ll welcome and support you at any stage of your journey, no matter how mild or severe things may seem. Regardless of where you are, I’m here for you.

Find Out More

If you’re interested in working with me, you can book a free consultation here. I also share lots of tips and advice via Instagram.

Useful Links

What is Perinatal Mental Health?

European Institute of Perinatal Mental Health


Maternal Mental Health Alliance


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