While people discuss having a child as perhaps the most wonderful and life-changing event a person will ever experience, they acknowledge that trying to get pregnant and being pregnant can be extremely stressful, or that the transition into parenthood can lead to feeling stressed, anxious and depressed. Some endure years of mental and physical agony going through invasive treatments trying to get pregnant, all the while questioning whether or not it will ever work. For others, pregnancy comes easily, but is full of uncertainty, anxiety, and self doubt. Some parents may remain blissful throughout pregnancy, only to discover that they are stressed, exhausted, or overwhelmed by the transition to becoming a new parent.
Our therapists use a variety of techniques and expertise in the field to provide an integrative and healing approach to infertility and other issues that arise in response to pregnancy and postpartum stress. We use hypnosis for positive visualization, to promote relaxation, and to address anxiety and fears. Our therapists’ in-depth knowledge of fertility, pregnancy, and postpartum issues helps individuals achieve success, connect to NYC’s top resources, and navigate this wonderful, yet challenging time.
Struggling with infertility can be lonely and difficult to describe to others due to the myriad emotions and anxiety that accompany the process of trying to get pregnant. For those suffering from infertility, the experience can be traumatic. You can spend years going from doctor to doctor, trying to understand what is wrong. It takes a lot of time, energy, and money, especially for a process that has an uncertain outcome. You may feel isolated - surrounded by others who seem to get pregnant easily - while you’re experiencing so much difficulty; this can also lead to feelings of jealousy or resentment.
Dr. Sera Lavelle, Dr. Samantha Gaies, Dr. Sara Glazer and Dr. Karolina Pekala work with individuals and couples during the process of trying to get pregnant. They are experts in using hypnosis and therapy techniques to guide clients through the process, and they all have vast knowledge about infertility. They are able to help clients: connect to the top fertility specialists in the city, understand their medications, feel more confident in regards to advocating for themselves, and develop a plan that incorporates integrative and nontraditional medicine according to the clients' preferences.
Our form of therapy blends hypnosis and psychotherapy with clinical research. While hypnosis and therapy will not directly help a client get pregnant, it will aid in the process. Hypnosis can be used to alleviate the intense anxiety around fertility treatments, increase positive thinking, and relax thoughts of self-doubt and self-blame. Integrative therapy addresses the struggles associated with infertility and fertility treatments — such as limited time, social isolation, and difficulties with romantic partners — that often arise during this time. By combining hypnosis and therapy, our therapists help clients move through this process with less anxiety, greater confidence, and better connection in their relationships.
While pregnancy is a wonderful experience, it is also quite normal to feel difficult emotions surrounding pregnancy, fear of medical procedures, anxiety regarding pregnancy options, worry that something will go wrong, or fear of life changes. This is often in sharp contrast to society’s expectations that both men and women should be nothing but hopeful, optimistic, and glowing from the experience. Instead, we often feel a mixture of emotions. We can be happy about being pregnant, while also feeling anxiety and fearful about the impending life changes. We can be cheerful and envision a positive future with our child, while also feeling resentful of timing, uncertain about our relationship, or fearful that it will interfere with our life goals. Any ambivalence, fear, or doubt can be hard to discuss with our friends and family - and at times, it can even be hard to admit to ourselves.
Dr. Samantha Gaies and Dr. Meghan Downey work with clients throughout the pregnancy process. They offer a supportive, nonjudgmental form of therapy, which allows clients to discuss and explore their thoughts and feelings about pregnancy, while also bringing expert knowledge of the pregnancy process and available resources.
Integrating hypnosis and therapy can be powerful for preparing to get pregnant, the pregnancy itself, and the birthing process. Hypnosis aids in visualizing a positive pregnancy and life for the child, calming the mind, and helping clients access inner resources to help them through this process. Integrative therapy works to address fears and concerns, stop obsessive thoughts surrounding pregnancy, and promote the transition to parenthood. Our therapists integrate hypnosis and therapy with a tailored approach so that each expecting mother feels like an individual as they develop a cohesive plan to feel confident and at east through the pregnancy process.
The transition into parenthood is a beautiful experience, yet it can also be extremely challenging. It’s a time full of mixed emotions in which someone can feel blissful about the birth of their new child, while also feeling strained financially and emotionally. This major life change and new set of responsibilities can feel completely exhausting and overwhelming.
Dr. Karolina Pekala and Dr. Meghan Downey have a special interest in postpartum, and parenting support. They use mindfulness and hypnotherapy to support new mothers through postpartum issues and the transition into parenthood. They understand the struggles women face upon becoming new mothers, such as hormonal fluctuations, loss of identity, trouble breastfeeding, navigating difficult career and financial decisions, sleep deprivation, isolation, and new strains on relationships.
Dr. Pekala completed an obstetrics rotation At Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center where she helped expectant mothers in conjunction with their OB and psychiatrist. She is well-read in the research that demonstrates that postpartum symptoms can emerge as soon as the third semester and that prenatal and postnatal therapy can help offset baby blues. Dr. Pekala helps mothers navigate challenges, such as high-risk pregnancies and changing family dynamics when a new member of the family arrives, especially for older siblings. At Woodhull, Dr. Pekala also enjoyed working with child and adolescent patients and their families. She provided individual and family therapy, with a focus on psychoeducational sessions for parents based on their child's specific diagnosis. Dr. Pekala continued this work at her postdoctoral fellowship at the Cambridge Eating Disorder Center. Dr. Pekala believes that meetings with the family helps parents express their emotions and concerns in a warm and supportive atmosphere, learn about their child's diagnosis, become informed about strategies to implement at home and school, and develop strengthened relational bonds within the whole family unit.
Dr. Downey has a vested interest in women’s health including working post-partum challenges and parenting. Dr. Downey has led community presentations in her position as Program Manager at Northwell Health, which included topics such as "Resiliency in Motherhood". There she also facilitated the International Women’s Day panel discussion, covering issues and cultural dynamics such as "The Working Mother" and "Women in the Workplace". In her role there, she gained extensive experience working with adolescents, young adults, and parents. Dr. Downey has also written a collection of works on parenting challenges including, “The Supermom Phenomenon” and “The Double Standard of Parenting.” She has collaborated with other writers on topics such Permissive Parenting Styles and Unresponsive Parenting Style. As a mother herself, Dr. Downey approaches her work with women and parents with warmth, compassion, validation and empathy. Using mindfulness, hypnosis, psychoeducation, and other integrative methods, she supports her clients through their transition to hope, optimism, and confidence.
There are many benefits to blending hypnosis, mindfulness and therapy techniques to support the transition into motherhood and issues surrounding parenting. This is often a period where we are caring for another at the expense of personal self-care. Dr. Pekala and Dr. Meghan Downey use their vast experience with CBT, psychoanalysis, and relational therapy to create a safe and supportive environment to explore the thoughts and feelings associated with this transition, while using hypnosis and mindfulness to help clients find peace and calmness when feeling frantic and overwhelmed.
When sadness feels intense in the months after giving birth, it may be Postpartum Depression. Read more about PPD symptoms and therapy HERE.
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