Birth, Parenting and Mental Wellness

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our Women's Mental Health Program has hosted a series of collaborative Facebook Live presentations with the Ottawa Birth & Wellness Centre. Feel free to watch below, and be sure to follow the Ottawa Birth & Wellness Centre on Facebook to watch more videos, and to find out about upcoming events.


Perinatal Mental Health with Dr. Valérie Giroux
A conversation about the risk factors and symptoms of Postpartum Major depression and Anxiety Disorder, available treatment options, and the importance of self-care and social support with Dr. Valérie Giroux. (Disponible en français ici)

Moderator: Nancy McLaren Kennedy

Ask the Experts: Pandemic Edition with Midwives Teresa Bandrowska, RM and Nicole Pichette, RM
This presentation featured two Midwives from Ottawa Birth & Wellness Centre who covered topics including pregnancy, birth, postpartum, breastfeeding & chestfeeding during COVID-19.

Moderator:  Nancy McLaren Kennedy

Resources for pregnancy, birth, and postpartum available here:

Maternal Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Midst of COVID-19
This week's presentation centred around maternal mental health and wellbeing in the midst of COVID-19, including highlighting community-based resources and support options.

Presenters: Emma Slaney Gose and Ann-Marie O'Brien
Moderator: Nancy McLaren Kennedy

Perinatal Mood and Anxiety: A Conversation with Dr. Jasmine Gandhi
A conversation exploring when it is appropriate to seek treatment for perinatal mental health, community resources, available types of treatments, and a Q+A with Dr. Jasmine Gandhi, staff psychiatrist at The Ottawa Hospital and Associate Professor at the University of Ottawa.

Moderator: Nancy McLaren Kennedy

Facebook Live with Community Agencies
This week's presentation highlights local services for parents and families, and had a live Q+A period at the end.

Featuring Guests:
Courtney A. Holmes CBD/PCD (DONA), CCE
Family Outreach and Birth Companion Support Worker
Birth and Parent Companion Program, Mothercraft Ottawa

Wendy O'Connell-Smith, BSW
Coordinator, Parenting Program,
Family Services Ottawa

Moderator: Nancy McLaren Kennedy

Community Access Doulas
This presentation provides an understanding of the role of a Postpartum Doula, the benefits and impact of Postpartum Doulas on postpartum wellness, and how to access postpartum care. It also discusses how systemic barriers and inequality can have a negative impact on postpartum wellbeing, and highlighted personal stories of families’ experiences with Postpartum Doulas.

Presenters: Christine Crook and Stephanie Bradford

Moderator: Nancy McLaren Kennedy

Perinatal Gut Health
This presentation provides an understanding of what gut health is, the gut-fertility connection, how gut health can affect a baby, what damages gut health, and provides suggestions for promoting proper gut health during and after pregnancy.

Presenter: Tay Gendron, CNP, NNCP

Moderator: Nancy McLaren Kennedy

Understanding and Healing Birth Trauma
This presentation provides an understanding of birth trauma and suggestions to promote healing from birth trauma. It explores what makes birth trauma unique, the consequences of birth trauma, how to prevent it, and how to move forward after experiencing birth trauma.

Presenter: Christiane Laflèche, MSW, Certified Postpartum Professional

Moderator: Nancy McLaren Kennedy

Understanding Breastfeeding Grief
This presentation helped audience members develop an understanding of breastfeeding grief and how it can manifest. Included was a personal story of breastfeeding loss, an explanation of disenfranchised grief, body-based grief, and secondary losses related to breastfeeding grief. The presentation also covered impossible parenting culture and its impact on breastfeeding grief, and discussed the power of ambivalence and self-compassion in parenting.

Presenter: Laurie-Anne Muldoon, MSW, RSW, BScN

Moderator: Nancy McLaren Kennedy

Mental Health, Prematurity, and the NICU Experience

A presentation and discussion around prematurity, the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) experience, and mental health.

Presenters: Elyse Banham and Julia Lauzon

Moderator: Nancy McLaren Kennedy

Understanding Your Baby's Sleep
This presentation, developed in collaboration with the Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre, discusses the importance of getting good restorative sleep for parents and babies; common sleep challenges; and tips and habits for getting healthy sleep. (Disponible en français ici)

Presenter: Joelle Choueiry, Neuroscience Ph.D. Candidate & Sleep Consultant

Moderator: Nancy McLaren Kennedy

Grief and Loss: The Motherlove Project

Janet Gwilliam-Wright shares her personal journey with grief and loss, building community, and the creation of the Motherlove Project. The Motherlove Project is open for submissions. To submit your story, send your text and photos to:

Presenters: Janet Gwilliam-Wright

Moderator: Nancy McLaren Kennedy

Grief resources:

Peer Support Groups

Perinatal Wellness Group

Tuesdays from 11am-12pm and Wednesdays from 2pm-3pm via Zoom

A check-in followed by a discussion of topics raised during check in. Co-facilitated by a peer who has lived experience with depression and anxiety during pregnancy and postpartum. Also co-facilitated by a social worker from The Royal's Women’s Mental Health program. This is a peer group where participants learn from others who have similar experiences.

Journaling as a Wellness Tool

Tuesdays from 1pm-2pm via Zoom

Led by 2 peer facilitators. Each week explores different topics that are used as prompts, such as: intentions and gratitudes, emotional vocabulary, and setting goals. There will be prompts, time to write, and a time for participants to share with the group if they wish.

Life with a Baby

Peer-led Online Support Group led by 2 peer facilitators.

Fridays from 2pm-3pm via Zoom. Starting June 4th, 2021

Maximum 8 participants.


  • Introduction
  • Depression and parenting
  • Anxiety and parenting
  • Reducing Distress and Improving Resilience
  • Relationships
  • Using our new skills

To register for any of these groups, email with your full name, email address, home address and phone number.

group of women smiling and laughing

Women's Mental Health at The Royal

The Women’s Mental Health Program is an innovative program at The Royal that was created out of a need to address the unique way women experience mental illness, treatment and recovery because of differences in biology and social roles. We promote mental health and well-being for all women. We work to ensure that women’s experiences with the mental health system will reflect their unique biological, psychological and social needs.