Tuesday, October 6, 2015

[PurelyB] Mindful Topic: Emotional Support for Motherhood (Written by Hiro Koo)

Mindful Topic: Emotional Support for Motherhood“I am so worried about my baby! I don’t know whether I can be a good mother,” a pregnant lady told her husband. Indeed, the process of pregnancy can be stressful and it is one of the major life changing events. 
It is quite difficult for the gentlemen to understand the feelings throughout the whole pregnancy process - they might feel some differences but not as strong and direct as one who is pregnant. Thus, conflict between husband and wife is always an issue during pregnancy. Due to hormone secretion and body image changes, a pregnant woman can easily encounter problems with mood swings.
Mothers-to-be may need to overcome quite a number of problems such as changes in quality and quantity of sleep as well as anxiety issues. Research shows that people with sleep deprivation have higher chances of enhanced impulsivity to negative stimuli (Anderson & Platten, 2010) or even other issues related to memory deprivation and executive functioning (Fortier-Brochu, Beaulieu-Bonneau, Ivers, & Morin, 2010). Thus, a pregnant woman without good sleep may think irrationally and tend to be disorganised.

Emotional support is very important during this stage. Hence, as an intimate partner or close friends and family, we would need to provide sufficient emotional support throughout the whole pregnancy process. Some issues that most pregnant women may encounter are further discussed below.
Motherhood Above Fear and Anxiety 2 of 3

Fear and Anxiety

Anxiety is a common issue that most pregnant women need to overcome. She may worry about the condition of her baby, her husband, her competency to be a mother, the labour and delivery procedure, her work status, any unresolved tasks and more. People who tend to think too much ahead are more likely to experience anxious feelings. However, it is quite difficult to control our thoughts. In fact, the more you try to restrict yourself from having certain thoughts, you will end up thinking it over and over again. For example, when one says, “Don’t think of an elephant”, your brain will definitely receive this command and process it before setting a filter in front, where you will then end up with a big fat elephant on your mind.  
What we can do is to merely live in the present and enjoy the moment.  Self-hypnosis is a proven technique to reduce pain intensity and to cope with anxiety. Hence, a pregnant woman should equip herself with a personalised self-hypnosis method from a licensed Clinical Hypnotherapist registered with the Association of Hypnotherapy Practitioner Malaysia (AHPM). 

Sleep Issue

How well do you sleep? Or how often do you sleep? People with anxiety problems can never fall asleep easily. When you worry excessively and are anxious, your fast brainwaves become dominant which leads to sleep problems, where you would spend lesser time in sleep even when you feel tired. If your slow brainwaves activities cannot increase during bedtime, it may even lead to bad sleep quality. People who lack sleep might experience depression (Watson et al., 2014). Sleep deprivation also can lead to memory problems (Fortier-Brochu, Beaulieu-Bonneau, Ivers, & Morin, 2010), irrational thoughts, impulsivity and problems coping with stress (Anderson & Platten, 2010). You will then become more vulnerable to stressors. Hypnotherapy has been proven to help sleep-related issues and increase the amount and duration of slow wave sleep effectively (Cordi, Schlarb, & Rasch, 2014). Hence, seeing a licensed Clinical Hypnotherapist is essential to assure better sleep quality and quantity throughout your pregnancy.     
Motherhood Above Mood Swings 3 of 3

Mood Swings

Quite a number of pregnant women experience mood swings which can be very apparent to those around them. She may tend to act irrationally when it comes to decision-making or planning. Additionally, her mood swings might affect those around her. Emotional support by providing an attentive listening ear and showing empathy is what she needs at this point. A pregnant woman usually needs someone who is able to provide non-judgmental support. A good listener could be anyone, such as close friends, siblings, family, partner or even a counsellor or psychologist. 
A scientifically-proven, safe, and non-invasive method, known as the “Brain Traner”, is found to overcome mood swings effectively. It can enhance the functions of the different parts of the brain. In this case, by training the prefrontal lobe area (near our forehead), logical and analytical thinking as well as mood regulation functions can be significantly improved. Research also found that EEG biofeedback therapy (brain trainer) showed better improvement, compared to a group using psychotherapy, in mood-related issues (Linden, 2014). The gaming component of brain trainer proves a lot more interesting than conventional psychotherapy as they can objectively monitor changes in their own brainwaves throughout the training course. 

Body Image

For the first time mother, changes in her appearance may lead to different thoughts, while some are refreshing and new, some other thoughts may be stressful. For example, one could have lower self-esteem and become more suspicious. This is linked closely to one’s perceived level of attractiveness and worries about appearance. In this case, one should turn to one’s partner for positive affirmation. On the other hand, working up a weight-loss plan together with your partner might be another good idea to get a sense of security and support. Enrolling in a Hypno-Band weight loss programme may help to work both the mind and body, which is a long-term solution to weight problems. You could also approach a licensed Clinical Hypnotherapist who could help in weight loss. 

  • Anderson, C., & Platten, C. R. (2010). Sleep deprivation lowers inhibition and enhances impulsivity to negative stimuli. Behavioural Brain Research, 217(2), 463 – 466. doi:10.1016/j.bbr.2010.09.020
  • Cordi, M. J., Schlarb, A. A., & Rasch, B. (2014). Deepening sleep by hypnotic suggestion. Sleep, 37(6), 1143-1152. doi: 10.5665/sleep.3778
  • Fortier-Brochu, É., Beaulieu-Bonneau, S., Ivers, H., & Morin, C. M. (2010). Insomnia and daytime cognitive performance: A meta-analysis. Sleep Medicine Reviews , 16(1) , 83 – 94. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2011.03.008
  • Linden, D. E. J. (2014). Neurofeedback and networks of depression. Dialogues in Clinical
  • Neuroscience, 16(1), 103–112. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3984886/pdf/DialoguesClinNeurosci-16-103.pdf
  • Watson, N. F., Harden, K. P., Buchwald, D., Vitiello, M. V., Pack, A. I., Strachan, E., & Goldberg, J. (2014). Sleep Duration and Depressive Symptoms: A Gene-Environment Interaction. Sleep, 37(2), 351–358. doi:10.5665/sleep.3412

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