Perinatal Therapy

What is Perinatal Therapy?

Perinatal therapy is a specialist therapy for parents who have experienced psychological distress during pregnancy, birth, or in the post-natal period. There are a range of potential sources of psychological distress for parents during this time. These include the birth not going to plan, trauma during the birth process, difficulties adjusting to a new role and identity as a parent, dealing with a premature birth, or anxiety and depression. An experienced therapist works to support and guide parents through the changes, experiences, or trauma they may have endured.

There are also occasions where parents have to come to terms with having a child with a disability, a life-limiting illness or another diagnosis, and perinatal therapy can assist with processing these. Perinatal therapy also includes grief work for parents who have experienced the death of a child, either during the pregnancy or in the first few months after birth.

Adjusting to life postpartum

The 2018 National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines recommend that early assessment and intervention is offered to women who have experienced psychological difficulties associated with pregnancy and birth. This is important to ensure that mothers get timely and appropriate treatment and support, so that mothers and families can continue to have healthy, meaningful lives.

Around 10-15% of women experience symptoms of depression after the birth of a child, and approximately 5% of women experience postnatal anxiety. Still others struggle with adjusting to parenthood, to balance their own healthcare needs with the needs of a new baby, or to process the trauma they may have endured during pregnancy or birth.

A range of physical difficulties that can occur during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period. These may include bladder/bowel incontinence, pelvic pain, pain during sexual intercourse, rectus diastasis (tummy gap), obstetric tears, scar tissue, pelvic organ prolapse and general strength and fitness issues associated with pregnancy and birth. 1 in 3 women experience urinary incontinence, 1 in 5 suffer with pelvic girdle pain, 1 in 3 may experience ongoing abdominal muscle separation, and up to 50% of women who delivered vaginally are said to have pelvic organ prolapse.

Many new mothers, for a number of reasons, are reluctant to confide in others about these experiences or to seek help during this time, and may continue to struggle without the appropriate treatment or support. Our perinatal clinic hopes to improve access to specialist services, and offer parents the choice to seek help and support in a safe, confidential, non-judgemental space.

Support for mothers, fathers/partners, and couples

At Evidence-Based Therapy Centre, we recognise the significant psychological impact on fathers, partners, or co-parents. They may have watched their loved one experience emotional pain or physical damage, or shared any of the experiences detailed above, and they may also need support.

Fathers/partners/co-parents often don’t want to let their partner know how they are feeling, so they don’t share their experiences, and they can become isolated or feel alone. For example, they may fear overwhelming or burdening their partner, or feel they have a responsibility to be in the supporting role. Therefore at Evidence-Based Therapy Centre, we offer individual therapy to both parents, as well as offering couples sessions where this is needed.

Our Team

Our perinatal therapy service is run by accredited psychotherapist Olive O’Grady, in partnership with our specialist women’s health physiotherapist Sylvia Farrell.

Olive is an experienced psychotherapist, and has been specialising in perinatal therapy for over six years. She is highly experienced using evidence-based interventions to alleviate the psychological distress that can be associated with pregnancy and birth. Having spent time offering perinatal support through the HSE, Olive applied this experience to set up our perinatal service here at Evidence-Based Therapy Centre to serve people in need within our community.

Chartered physiotherapist Sylvia Farrell, our pelvic health specialist, is an expert in the assessment and management of a range of physical difficulties that can occur during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period. Sylvia understands the sensitivity of perinatal health issues and treats all patients with dignity, respect and understanding.

Sylvia worked as senior physiotherapist in the Rotunda Hospital, a leading maternity hospital in Dublin, where gained invaluable specialist experience in treating both inpatient and outpatient antenatal and postnatal obstetric patients.

Whilst Olive works with people to process the impact of their physical experiences on their overall well-being, Sylvia offers treatment, support and guidance to help women to adjust physically to their postnatal bodies. If you would like to read more about Women’s Health Physiotherapy, you can find out more here.

What to expect

Olive creates a safe, compassionate, non-judgemental space for parents to come and work through their difficulties and concerns. She works with a range of thoughts and feelings that may be present. For example, she may look at the individuals challenging expectations for themselves, like societal pressures to be the perfect parent, and work to help them recognise they are good enough.

Olive also supports new parents to regain their identity, and couples to regain their relationship as a couple, while adjusting to their new identities as parents. The therapeutic journey is about adjusting, healing, acknowledging unfamiliar feelings, bringing in compassion and support, and helping parents move towards healthy thoughts and feelings.

You can read more about Sylvia’s women’s health physiotherapy services under our women’s health section, including her specialist postnatal health check service.


If you would like to book an appointment you can call the clinic on 091 727777 or get in touch via the contact page. To ensure you are directed to the appropriate therapist, please let us know that you would like an appointment with the perinatal service when you get in touch.