New Moms

Counseling for new moms in Austin, Texas

A young woman with blonde hair cradles a baby in her arms. Her profile is illuminated by light coming in a nearby window. Therapy for new moms in Austin, Texas.

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Modern motherhood is kind of broken.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m a mom myself, and the rewards of parenting can be amazing and tender.

The job also involves a lot of poop, a fair amount of sleeplessness, and no scheduled time off.

Add to that all of the invisible work that you do—the work that can’t be evenly divided (hello, biology!), the work your partner was raised not to notice, the mutant to-do list that never quits.

Oh, and toss in a career, if you dare, and you have the makings of major burnout just waiting to happen.

The worst part?

You think it’s your fault, and if you could just manage your time/depression/anxiety/low motivation/low sex drive better, everything would be fine.

I’m not down with that storyline.

I don’t believe you are a problem to be fixed.

That’s why I offer counseling for new moms.

It’s a complex picture, new motherhood, and I’d like to help you get familiar with the stressors and strengths unique to your particular situation so we can tackle things together.

Why are new moms so stressed?

A young woman with black hair and a white long-sleeved top, looks down at a baby in her lap. The photo is framed with a lot of black background, offering a feeling of sadness and islation. Postpartum depression counseling in Austin, Texas.

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There are lots of things that stress out new moms.  These include:

  • Oversized expectations (cultural and personal)
  • Lack of support (physical, financial, emotional, familial and cultural)
  • Old stressors (past history of depression, anxiety or trauma; crazy family with poor boundaries)
  • New stressors (birth trauma, sleep deprivation, hormone cascade, postpartum body image)
  • Fear of repeating the past (wanting better for your child but feeling scared you won’t actually be able to do it)

There’s lots more to this list, but it’s a start.

It’s no wonder new moms are going nuts. There’s hardly enough time to get any sleep at all, let alone to make a thoughtful analysis about how you ended up here.

Half the time, we don’t even know what we’re looking at when it comes to postpartum depression.  (I had to write a post about it, in fact– because PPD has loads more signs than just tearfulness and low mood.)

It can be hard to pinpoint what’s going on during the early weeks and months of new motherhood.

But your feelings tell the story.  You’re overworked, unappreciated, and exhausted. Not tonight, honey.  I am so OVER this gig.  

And changing this dynamic isn’t as simple as having a conversation with your partner, if you have one.  (I’m guessing you’ve already tried that.)  Even if things change for a little while, before long you’re back into old patterns and feelings.  And the cycle continues.

Knowing what needs to change is half the battle—but having support exploring and putting new standards into practice is crucial.  And it’s really hard to do when you’re (justifiably) tired and emotional.  That’s part of how counseling for new moms can help.  We can tackle things through talk therapy or EMDR therapy together.

The “Good Mom” myth and why it hurts new moms

A cross-legged woman sitting in a grassy field cups her bare pregnant belly with both hands and leans back, sunlight shining on her face. Birth trauma counseling in Austin, Texas.

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One of the main reasons I offer counseling for new moms is to provide the reality check that women often need when they feel like they’re failing at motherhood.

Why does this happen?  The shoulds get piled on early, well before young girls are even thinking about motherhood.

Girls learn from very young about what’s proper and ladylike.

Even if you grew up in a pretty progressive family, you’ve still been schooled about what qualities make a woman worthy and desirable:  thin, white, young, pretty, sweet, generous, and endlessly agreeable.

Moms get the same stuff, just packaged a bit differently.  Here is how the story goes:

“Good” moms are self-sacrificing, appreciate every.moment. of motherhood, are blissed out & intuitive & wise with all aspects of their new role, and are masters at doing ALL THE THINGS.

“Good” moms have perfect, “natural” births (whatever that means).  They don’t have postpartum depression, birth trauma, or struggles with breastfeeding (because of course they breastfeed).  Also, they left the hospital in their pre-pregnancy jeans.

These myths of perfect moms erase the realities of new motherhood—it’s a singularly messy business and as unique as each of us is.  These myths ignore the impact of past trauma and how it shapes mental health for new moms.

These myths ignore the realities that a new mom who wants to reinvent an approach to parenting rather than recreate trauma from her own childhood and has no playbook as a guide–that can be a really scary, confusing place to be.  Good parenting is not necessarily an intuitive enterprise for those of us with painful childhoods.

These myths make new moms feel invisible and alone in their struggles.  I’m not okay with that.

New moms deserve more support

A mother attempts to distract her young daughter with a yellow rubber ducky while feeding her in her highchair. The child's face is blocked by the mother's hand holding the duck toy in the foreground of the image. New mom therapy in Austin, Texas.

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More and more women are starting to talk about the realities of sleep deprivation, the power of postpartum hormones, and the challenges of post-birth recovery.

Yet we still live in a country where paid parental leave is a dream.

I believe women are not supported enough in the work of motherhood in this country, and this has a huge impact on our mental health.

Sadly, counseling for new moms remains out of reach for many rather than being a standard part of postpartum care.  (If you’ve reviewed my website and my fees don’t fit your budget, help is still available.  Reach out to the Pregnancy and Postpartum Health Alliance of Texas and inquire about their therapy voucher program.)

Maybe you read the “good mom” myths up there and laugh.  I sure hope so.  But even if you look with skepticism on these standards, consider:

You’ve had decades to soak up these messages, even if you consciously reject them.  And guess what?  Your partner has taken these messages in, too.

In order to make changes, we have to challenge the temptations of perfectionism and the seductive notion that we could get everything done if we just got our %$# together. 

We have to dismantle the supermom and good girl myths of people-pleasing and niceness and martyrdom and not-asking-for-help.  We have to be honest about how we are actually feeling, if things are to change.

This is why counseling for new moms can be such an important part of postpartum recovery.  We focus so much on physical recuperation that we can overlook the essential changes in a person’s psyche and the importance of supporting mental health during the transition.

For each new mom I work with, we have to heal where these messages come from, make room for fears about challenging the status quo, and explore where she needs relief and what those boundaries are gonna look like in practice.

We have to make room for how the fantasies and realities may not have matched up, as in the case of birth trauma, or postpartum depression and anxiety.

The culture game of perfect motherhood may be rigged, but you don’t have to play.  You can do motherhood your way.  You can slow down, make different choices, and put yourself first sometimes.

Make your own kind of motherhood

A mother and her daughter sit on a beach, silhouetted against a beautiful orange sunset. The daughter drapes one arm over her head in a casual, cheerful gesture. Counseling for new moms in Austin, Texas.

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Motherhood can be different when you’re willing to slow down and do the big work of challenging, questioning, and experimenting.

When you give yourself permission to question culture and convention, you influence the course of your life (and your children’s lives, too).

You can say no without feeling guilty.

You can regain your passion and vitality in life because you aren’t scraping by on leftovers.

And here’s the irony:  you actually can take better care of others because you’re taken care of yourself!

Postpartum depression doesn’t have to follow you undiagnosed for years.  Your birth story doesn’t have to be something you cringe at telling or try to hide in your own mind.

When you make your own kind of motherhood, you make peace with who you are, where you are.  You ask for help, without shame.

When you make your own kind of motherhood, you make sense of past painful experiences in your own childhood, so they don’t show up in your own parenting unconsciously.

When you make your own kind of motherhood, you experiment with developing sustainable methods of self-care because you realize that a legacy of self-neglect is not something you want to teach your daughters and sons.  They deserve better—and so do you.

By loving yourself in this way—and DOING it, not just talking about it– you teach your children how to do the same.  You teach your sons to respect women as equal partners.  You teach your daughters self-respect.

Self-love and self-respect.  I can think of no lesson more important for any child—can you?  More to the point:  as good as this all is for your kiddo(s), don’t you deserve those lessons, too?

It’s never too late to learn.

Why do I offer counseling for new moms?

A sculpture of a carved woman in a white dress cradling her infant in her arms. Their foreheads are pressed together affectionately. New mom counseling in Austin, Texas.

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Here’s the short answer:  I know these challenges intimately, based on my own personal experiences.

I have a lifetime of experience with people-pleasing, and I’m still making my way deeper into motherhood.  And I’ve done a boatload of my own therapy over the years.

Of course, your story takes precedence when we sit together.  I give you this information about me to let you know that my interest in these topics isn’t theoretical or academic.  It’s personal.  And I don’t want you to think you’re sitting alone in this soup.  You’re not.

In essence:  I have 13+ years of experience as a therapist treating of people-pleasing, anxious attachment, trauma, and codependency among women.  I offer feminist therapy and I’m keenly aware how these pressures can do a number of women’s self-esteem and mental health.  I wrote two research papers on women’s mental health (yes, I’m a nerd– and totally committed to this cause in my work.)  We can use talk therapy, EMDR therapy, or a blend of the two in our work together.

I added counseling for new moms to my practice after I was out of the woods from my own postpartum journey.  It is something I know from the inside out.

What do people-pleasing and new moms have to do with each other?

A birds eye photo looking down at a young woman with black hair looking lost in thought. She sits with one arm around her waist, the other nestled by her cheek. Postpartum depression therapy Austin, Texas.

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I worked for the first 5-6 years in private practice working with people-pleasers—men and women who are “allergic” to saying no.  95% of my practice was filled with women.

Over time, I began to connect the dots and realize that while people-pleasing is a problem for men, too, it is part and parcel of what it means to be a woman in this society.

Women are trained from very early to be pleasing to others, to silence their voices in order to earn love, to put others’ needs before their own.

Women who manage to escape this legacy do so while being branded bitches or unfeminine.

There are costs whether you meet the ideal standard, fall short, or defy it.  I want us to have more options than that.

Once I became a mother, I really started to see the problem of people-pleasing, martyrdom, and gender dynamics in three dimensions.

I began to see in my own life all the added work and responsibility that came with children, and how I was often the assumed, default provider of most of these added pieces of work.  I felt it impact my business, my energy level and my own mental health.

Truth be told, I’m still in the weeds, trying to figure this stuff out.  And I realize more and more that new moms are in a pretty vulnerable position—facing down a change in identity and loads of new work that often gets “distributed” without any kind of conscious discussion, to say nothing of the hazards of postpartum depression, birth trauma, and other challenges that can come with postpartum life.

So, my practice has evolved over time to really reflect not just the needs of women, but the needs of new mothers in particular.  It’s really hard to sort out and challenge all this stuff when you’re sleep deprived and leaking milk on yourself.

What does counseling for new moms look like in practice?

A smiling mother regards the camera, holding her toddler in a blue sling to her chest affectionately. Birth trauma therapy in Austin, Texas.

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The path to healing is various and nuanced and depends on the person sitting across from me.  Often, it involves healing painful myths and messages you carry inside you.

It may involve tending to past or recent trauma.

It might involve rocking the status quo in your relationship.

It will involve you asking for more out of your life and the people in it (yourself included, but maybe not in the ways you’d expect.)

It will certainly require courage and a willingness to try new things.

On the other side of therapy?

A more spacious, compassionate life.  

Less self-doubt and comparing yourself to others.

More feeling at peace and present with the moment in front of you. 

Less worry and anxiety about worst case scenarios.

More love, more love, more love.

I’ve seen it happen for my clients.  I’ve seen it in my own life.  I’m a work in progress and always will be, but I can say without a doubt that therapy has been a transformative experience for me.

Whether you come in to see me for therapy or not, my wish for you is this:

Make your own kind of motherhood.  The stuff that comes off the shelf in the box isn’t built with us in mind.

Getting started

A cheerful young woman with glasses sits smiling in an armchair, ready to offer therapy for people pleasing and new moms in Austin, Texas. Ann Stoneson, LPC.So you’re an exhausted new mom and wondering how therapy might help you.  Here’s the next step to take:

1.)    Email me to set up your free, 30 minute consultation.  Please note that I can only work with people in the Austin, Texas area, due to licensing requirements and restrictions.  I provide both talk therapy and EMDR therapy in my practice; we can talk about how both of these work when we meet for our consultation, if you have questions.  You can also take a peek at these testimonials.

2.)  While you’re waiting to have your consultation, review the articles listed below to get more information on how new motherhood, people-pleasing and cultural expectations combine to stress you out.  The first step to changing is understanding what you’re dealing with.

No matter how challenging or stressful things might feel at this moment, please know this:  you are not alone.  Help is here.  Change is possible.  Let’s connect and talk more about it all.

Looking for information on new moms, people-pleasing, and mental health?

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