Birth, Parenting and Mental Wellness

Perinatal Mental Health Programming

The Women’s Mental Health Program, in partnership with the Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre, offers peer support groups to people who are pregnant and post-partum to support perinatal mental health and wellness.

Peer Support Groups

Parenting Drop In (In person)

* Please note: this group is currently on-hold as the Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre is temporarily closed for renovations, for updates please check this site or contact

The Parenting Drop In offers parents with infants (ages 0-1) access to health and social supports and the opportunity to socialize with other families. Supports available at the drop-in include infant weight checks, feeding support, mental health support, and the opportunity to ask questions and access information about health and community supports and services. The drop in is facilitated by a social worker from The Royal and a midwife from the Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre.

No pre-registration required. For more information contact:

Perinatal Wellness Group (Virtual)

  • Wednesdays from 2–3 p.m., excluding holidays

The Perinatal Wellness Group is a free virtual drop-in support group for individuals who are pregnant and post-partum. The focus of the group is on mental health, perinatal and parenting experiences, and maintaining wellness. The group is committed to providing a safe, non-judgemental space where individuals can receive support and connect with others in the community. It is an open group, and ongoing, so people may drop in as they are able. Tools needed will include access to the internet/Zoom.

To register, email (name, phone number, and address will be required)

Perinatal Journaling as a Wellness Tool Group (virtual)

  • 9 week course (1hr/weekly), sessions offered throughout the year

The Perinatal Journaling as a Wellness Tool group is a safe space for pregnant and post-partum people to express themselves through the act of journaling with emphasis on the perinatal journey. Over nine weeks, participants will learn the benefits of journaling, as well as be lead through topics including making connections, emotional vocabulary, letter writing, lists, gratitude and intentions, self-esteem journaling, creative journaling and evaluation. Writing assignments are given each week, and sharing is optional. Tools needed include paper/journal, writing implement, emailed handouts, and internet/Zoom access.  

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

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:


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.