If you haven’t gone through the passage of becoming a new parent, you may be wondering why there’s a need for a program like Enjoy Your Baby – a new pilot program put on by the Canadian Mental Health Association to support the mental well-being of new mothers. It’s a valid question. Before my first was born, I had visions of happy babies cooing and playing contentedly while I went about keeping the house clean and preparing healthy meals. I knew babies cried, but I didn’t know for how long, and I certainly wasn’t expecting to lose that much sleep.

Many things fall by the wayside, especially in those first few months. And more important than the dust bunnies that collect in the corners of your home, or the stove top that contains remnants of the spaghetti sauce you made four nights ago, is the self-care negligence that accompanies this phase.

Being on round 3 myself with the ‘new baby’ thing, I know that some things get easier and some things are just as difficult to ‘pencil in.’ Like child-free breaks. I have often joked with my close girlfriends that scheduling in a haircut for myself requires consulting 5 other people’s schedules (including the hairdresser’s!) and sometimes it’s easier to sweep my hair back in a ponytail!

Don't be fooled! I'm tiny and I'm cute...but I can be one tough chick!

Don’t be fooled! I’m tiny and I’m cute…but I can be one tough chick!

Though I joke about this bumpy road, I know what I went through with my first baby was more than a laughing matter. And I know that there are so many women who are going through the same thing, right at this moment.

So, when I heard about Enjoy Your Baby from one of the Community Outreach and Education Team Leaders, I jumped on the opportunity to share it with you.

The following is a press release directly from the Canadian Mental Health Association. Please read it, and share it. And if you, or someone you know needs it, please pursue this opportunity.

Canadian Mental Health Association Develops Mental Well-Being Course for New Mothers

Enjoy Your Baby January pilot courses in Vancouver and Langley open for registration

British Columbia—Taking care of a baby is hard. Staying mentally healthy doing it can be even harder.

That’s why the Canadian Mental Health Association’s BC Division (CMHA BC) has developed a new course called Enjoy Your Baby. The course is for any new mother facing stress, low mood or anxiety who could use effective strategies to make positive changes in her life and really enjoy parenthood.

The 5-session, skills-based course has started its pilot sessions last fall and will continue into the new year at locations in Vancouver and Langley. Each course will be co-facilitated by a trained CMHA staff and a health professional with experience in maternal/child health. The course will be free of charge during the pilot, including free child care.

“We’re thrilled to announce Enjoy Your Baby,” says Bev Gutray, CEO of CMHA BC. “We want to help prevent postpartum depression and boost well-being for women and their families. The potential reach of this course is huge. Because bringing baby home can bring so many challenges, really any new mother will benefit from the skills, humour and social connections in this course.”

The course was co-developed by Dr. Chris Williams, UK psychiatrist and international expert in cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), and Dr. Michelle Haring, a BC psychologist and expert in CBT and reproductive mental health. It builds on the principles in Dr. Williams’ popular Enjoy Your Baby booklet.

“I initially was overwhelmed as a new mother and I was also trying to do too much,” says Alyssa, a new mother from North Vancouver. “The Enjoy Your Baby booklet, which the new course is based on, gave me examples of activities that I could actually do as a new mother. These activities did make me feel better and as I tried them I started noticing I could make positive changes to my daily life. The suggestions in the booklet gave me permission to care for myself and I learned a ton about myself in the process!”

“Mental health self-care is tricky for new mothers—but so vital,” says Dr. Haring. “We know that traditional CBT works to help people manage stress, low mood and anxiety. But when you are caring for a new baby, finding the time and energy to learn and apply these skills can be difficult. What we’ve tried to do is apply CBT principles to the real lives of new moms and their families. We help new moms to make small positive changes to thoughts, behaviours and relationships. And all of this is done in a fun and engaging way with support from other moms who are going through the same challenges.”

If results from the pilot courses are encouraging, CMHA will seek funding to roll the course out nation-wide in both official languages. Enjoy Your Baby is part of the suite of successful CBT skills-based mental health promotion services offered by CMHA including the Living Life to the Full (group course for adults or youth) and Bounce Back (telephone coaching for adults).

If you are a new mother who could benefit from the Enjoy Your Baby course, please email courses.vb@cmha.bc.ca or visit www.vb.cmha.bc.ca to register. To order the booklet on its own, visit www.livinglifetothefull.ca.

Registration Information
Langley Public Health Unit
20389 Fraser Highway (Langley)
Thursdays, January 22nd, 29th, February 5th, 12th, 19th, 2015