About the course

Mindful Motherhood was developed by Cassandra Vieten, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist, specifically for pregnant women and new mums. It teaches a set of practices and ways of being based on the principles of mindfulness.

Mindfulness is a practice of being aware of your experience, from moment to moment, allowing it to be just as it is without evaluation or judgment. It recognises that each experience is temporary, and with practice, you can learn to ride the waves of everyday life, allowing each one to arise, peak, and pass away, as all experiences do. Over time, mindful awareness of your experiences as a mom, whether they are internal (mental, physical, or emotional) or external (situations with your baby or others), allows you to more and more often approach each experience with curiosity and compassion, for yourself and for others.

The Mindful Motherhood training uses several approaches to integrating mindful awareness into everyday life as a mom, teaching practices like mindful awareness of breathing, mindful awareness of the body, and mindful movement in the form of the Mindful Motherhood yoga series. In addition to these practices, Mindful Motherhood translates theories of mother-infant bonding, child development and the science of well-being, particularly as they relate to mindfulness, into easily accessible concepts that you can integrate into your everyday life during pregnancy and early motherhood.

Mindful Motherhood is a way of approaching the ups and downs of pregnancy, childbirth, and early motherhood with open eyes and an open heart. While it may sound simple, for most mothers it’s not easy. It involves learning new skills and seeing the world in a new way. Most of all, the Mindful Motherhood training is about finding realistic ways that mindful awareness can be gently and compassionately woven throughout the fabric of each day, since the last thing most moms need is something else to put on their to-do list!

With practice over time you are more and more often able to meet what is happening as it is and to make a choice about how to respond that is based on the actual situation and your values, rather than reacting unconsciously or habitually. Each time you do this, you very literally transmit that capacity to your child. Your baby senses that he is safe, that you are solid, and that his own overwhelming experiences are not overwhelming you. Your capacity to remain present and connected lays the groundwork for your baby developing a strong and secure sense of self.

The research

A large body of evidence in both animal and human studies indicates that stress and mood disturbance experienced during pregnancy increases the risk for preterm birth, low birth weight, and other pregnancy-related complications, and may adversely affect the developing fetus. Postnatal mood disturbance can interfere with attachment, quality of mother-infant interactions, healthy parenting behaviors, and child development. While a wealth of evidence supports all these facts, surprisingly little information is available to women and clinicians for reducing stress and improving mood in pregnancy and postpartum.

Cassandra Viten and her colleagues  at California Pacific Medical Center’s Research Institute conducted  a three-year intervention development project and randomized controlled trial. The study showed that participating the Mindful Motherhood Program, an eight-week training modified from Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy , reduced negative affect and anxiety during pregnancy and held promise for reducing depression and increasing positive emotion through pregnancy into the postpartum period (Vieten & Astin, Archives of Women's Mental Health, January 2008).