Being a sensible, practical no nonsense sort of person I have always been skeptical about what the benefits of counselling or therapy would be for me. No one knows me better than myself, surely? It must be my husband/mother/hormone's fault I was feeling the way I was, or perhaps I'm just not cut out for motherhood...?
After hitting a tough time after the birth of my second child I recognised a problem but as I had never suffered from anything similar in the past, was not sure of the solution. After being swiftly diagnosed with Post Natal Depression and offered antidepressants by a GP, I am so pleased I paused for thought and sought out Sarah's help before heading down the potentially rocky road of medication.
Rather than attaching black and white labels, Sarah took a calm and assured approach and allowed me the space to recognise that - rather than being or feeling 'mad' - there were a myriad of sensible and rational reasons behind the way I was feeling (which very much spoke my language). She gently helped me recognise the things that are tough and, actually, not ok for modern mothers to have to put up with and I left sessions feeling supported and often armed with practical solutions or ways of rethinking issues with my partner and family. As much as anything else she has given me the tools to move forward with my life in a more positive way, allowing myself to recognise when things are difficult.
To I say I am a convert to counselling would be an understatement - I now recommend it to friends and believe it should be normalised as a healthy choice for new mothers across the board.
There are honestly no words that can give justice to how much I have gained from Sarah’s services. I went to Sarah after entering into a very low point in my life. I was very anxious, having panic attacks and felt stuck in a place that I very desperately wanted to get out but didn’t know how. I had spent the previous few years in a cycle of pregnancy and breast feeding and then further stressors just tipped things over the edge. I was very angry with people that were close to me and really felt like I had no control over my own life because of their actions. When I first went to Sarah I believed quite strongly that their was nothing wrong with my behaviour, it was purely the actions of my husband and other close family members that were causing my anxiety. Because of this, I wasn’t sure that counselling would be able to help. WOW was I wrong! Sarah was amazing! Within a few sessions she was able to help me see the situation from a fresh point of view and really untangle all the strong emotions I had been attaching to certain triggers. It was an emotional journey and quite difficult at points but her supportive and non-judgemental demeanour helped to get me through it. I am now in a point in my life where I feel much happier than I ever was before and I have a re-newed love and appreciation for my husband, my family and myself. She has taught me skills to help me deal with my anxiety as well as just life in general. I cant recommend Sarah enough and there really are no words to describe how much she has helped. Thank you so much Sarah, your words and wisdom have changed my life in the most fantastic way!
"I am not sure where to start when recommending Sarah at Birth and Beyond as she is absolutely amazing! I got in touch with Sarah at the beginning of last year when I felt like I wasn't coping. My first session with Sarah was a bit of a blur as I must have told her my life story in 60 minutes. I came away exhausted but relieved that someone could help me figure out what was going on. Sarah is so easy to talk to and really helps you understand what you are feeling. She helped me realise I was suffering from anxiety following the birth of my son and was something that I had potentially been suppressing for a while. Reaching out to Sarah will be one of the best things I did."
"My sessions with Sarah have been, quite literally, life changing. It took me several years to work up the courage to address my problems and seek professional help, I'd felt rejected by health professionals in the past so was extremely nervous but I needn't have worried. Sarah's kindness, compassion, skill and knowledge quickly put me at ease and made me feel safe and secure enough to explore my problems. Our counselling sessions have helped me view my past experiences in a very different way and I've learnt so much about myself that I will carry forward into the future. Prior to counselling I felt 'stuck' and trapped in the past but Sarah has helped me find a sense of peace and acceptance, and I feel able to look forward to the future with my children now. Sarah's holistic approach and vast knowledge of local services meant that she was able to offer suggestions of other sources of support to look in to for various specific issues too. Sarah was willing to work flexibly with me to accommodate my needs around my work and family commitments, her online sessions meant I could access counselling at home whilst my children were in bed in the evening and her counselling room provides a beautiful, calm environment for face to face sessions. I can't recommend Sarah and Birth and Beyond enough, I am so grateful, thank you Sarah."
"I started working with Sarah when life was really getting on top of me and it was difficult to see a way out. Our sessions gave me some breathing space away from busy family and working life to focus on what was troubling me and to try to explore and untangle my feelings.Sarah's kind insight was such a breath of fresh air and I came away from each session with lots to think about, and not always easy stuff, but feeling lighter. Sarah picked up on things I hadn't realised were problematic which were holding me back and it felt liberating to realise that I could put them in the past and deal with what's going on in my life here and now, rather than wasting time on old feelings or expectations which are no longer relevant. Having concluded my counselling I now feel much more accepting of life and what it throws at me and I have learned how to create space for myself, listen to my own feelings and be gentler with myself. I have been able to take my work with Sarah to so many parts of my life, in particular my relationships with my children and family, and life feels much easier and more free."
“After years of battling Postnatal Depression and Anxiety I was recommended to see Sarah. I felt this was my final big chance to get better again. I can’t express how difficult it was for me to attend my first counselling session with her. I sat outside in my car for ages, sweaty palms and heart racing. What a hurdle! However, as soon as Sarah welcomed me in I instantly felt her kindness and compassion. She has such a gentle manner about her. The first few sessions were exhaustingly emotional (I owe her a box of kleenex tissues, lol) but I ploughed on and on and gradually started to feel more positive, I was able to think clearer, able to adjust my day to day life for the better, and therefore improved my ability to cope. I have just completed 8 sessions with Sarah, and I can honestly say that when I think back to how poorly I was a few weeks ago compared to how I feel now, I am like a different person. Still got some recovery to go, but in my opinion I wouldn’t be feeling as good now if I hadn’t met Sarah.
If you require a counsellor who is professional yet friendly, caring, and gentle then Sarah is the person for you. I can’t recommend Sarah highly enough.”
“I had my daughter in September and from day 1 I was filled with huge levels of anxiety and experienced a massive loss of confidence. I couldn’t believe that the child my husband and I had so dearly wanted had arrived with such a shock to the system. I even wandered if we’d made a mistake having her in the first place.
At the same time my depression made me fear I was a burden to those around me and not much good for my daughter. I felt I needed some one to help me deal with the huge tangle of conflicting emotions I was experiencing so I reached out to Sarah.
I’d heard about Birth and Beyond from a pal and much of what this pal had experienced rang true for me so I hoped Sarah could help me too.
Sarah is incredibly warm and would make anyone feel at ease and able to pour out their thoughts and fears. I did just that and after a couple of sessions began to see my thoughts and feelings in some perspective. Even see the funnier side of my darker moments.
I’ve much more work to do, but I would still be swamped by it all and totally unable to face the challenge without Sarah’s encouragement and gentle support. Her wisdom and empathy are powerful tools! ”
"Sarah is very welcoming, warm and friendly. I found her approach to counselling easy to relate to. With every session I came away with helpful questions and thoughts to work on."
Baby Kind Newborn Observations
“Sarah visited us at home when our daughter was 3 months old to do a Newborn Behavioural Observation session. As first-time parents, my husband and I found the experience to be a very interesting one. Sarah clearly loves what she does and interacted with Esme in a gentle and caring way throughout. It was interesting to hear how Esme’s responses to various stimuli compared with that of other babies and what this might mean in terms of us responding to her needs effectively. The session gave us lots of food for thought and reassurance at a time when we very much needed it.”
Becky and Esme, Stockbridge
“Sarah visited my daughter and I when Celia was about seven weeks old. She showed me how to read subtle cues from Celia that were really helpful, such as when she wanted me to engage with her and when she really wasn’t interested in something and not to force it! It made me feel more confident with Celia and that she really was able to communicate with me in her own small ways.”
Julia and Celia, Edinburgh
“Sarah came over when our daughter was just a couple of weeks old and gave us some really interesting tips which we have used since to read when she’s tired or overstimulated. She was really natural and confident around Freya and put us all at ease.”
Hannah and Freya, Dunbar
The Parent Kind Course
“The Parent Kind course is aimed at anyone with any kind of uncertainty or anxiety about becoming a parent. Through the various sessions you cover a range of topics including your expectations of becoming a parent versus the reality, your connection with your baby and changes to your relationships. Sarah is a patient and calm listener with a gentle, non-judgemental manner. Sessions take place in a peaceful environment and I very much felt I could be myself. In a society where the traditional family support network may be far away or non existent this course can bridge the gap and it offered me a brilliant start to motherhood; I’d go so far as to say that without it I’d be much further behind in understanding, accepting and ultimately enjoying my new role in this world – highly recommended.”
“For me Sarah was the right person at the right time. After a miscarriage I had put my feelings on hold and when my son was born after a traumatic labour I badly needed to mend myself but I felt overwhelmed with the pressures and expectations to solely focus on my son who was still a stranger. From first meeting Sarah was warm, kind and nurturing and with every session I felt myself mending and more able to heal myself and bond with my son. She seemed to know what you needed, be that time for thought, a glass of water and cakes to keep up the energy for nursing or to take baby for a minute to let you remember what being you feels like.“
“I found doing the Parent Kind course to be a great support in the first few months of being a mother – as a group we explored lots of issues that come with being a new parent – talking about them and hearing other views and experiences was cathartic and gave me more confidence when I was feeling at my most vulnerable. I would definitely recommend this to any new mothers!”
“I’m a brand new mum and although I had attended ante-natal classes, nothing had really prepared me beyond the basics for what happens after giving birth and when you take the baby home! The Parent Kind classes were excellent as not only did I meet other new mums to compare notes, the topics we discussed really made me examine my own expectations of becoming a mother and also helped me to consider all the changes going on around me. I looked forward to the weekly sessions and would highly recommend the course. It was a great support!”
“Thank you for the opportunity to explore what it is like to become a mother, but also to keep a hold of who you are as a person. Before my daughter was born, I knew I was in for a big change, but in those first few months when you feel like you’re being tossed around in the surf, it was invaluable to be able to have these kind and intelligent discussions about how life had turned upside down and how you could still keep a hold of yourself and love it all the same. I came out of it happier, more confident and clear in the direction I was going… with some good friends too!”