For many women, having a baby and caring for a newborn are not the happy and blissful experiences they always dreamed about. Instead, many women struggle. They feel overwhelmed, sad, guilty, and like a failure, or highly anxious that they are not doing everything perfectly and will ruin their baby’s future. The dramatic hormonal shifts that occur at the time of delivery or when lactation begins may trigger the Baby Blues, which should subside within the first two weeks postpartum. Fifteen to 20% of new moms will go on to develop significant anxiety and depression. Postpartum mental health issues can worsen with sleeplessness, perfectionism, nursing challenges, relationship struggles, the difficult recovery from a traumatic delivery, or having a sick baby. This can be a very challenging time but, with strong support and the right care, you can feel better.
At BRIA, we understand the complex challenges and stresses of having a new baby. We understand how these changes impact your life, body, and mental health. BRIA clinicians have many years of experience treating postpartum women and will provide evidence-based treatments with compassion and empathy. We have created inclusive, comprehensive mental health services to support you and treat your mental health struggles as you navigate the postpartum period.
Get a personalised Care Plan
Start therapy or other services
Get additional MD services, if required
Track mental health symptoms to see progress
We all face challenges, and it’s ok to ask for help. BRIA can support you in early motherhood.
You may be worrying a lot and notice that your mind just won’t settle down.
We have all experienced anxiety at some point. Medically, we define anxiety as intense worry that is more than expected for a given circumstance. Anxiety is very common in the postpartum period and it may be difficult to distinguish from regular stress during this life transition. Anxiety can refer to a range of symptoms from excessive worries to panic attacks. Often anxiety is associated with physical symptoms such as muscle tension, headaches, diarrhea, or heart palpitations. Many new parents have intense anxiety about their newborn’s health and well-being, so they may focus on specific routines to gain a sense of control, such as checking the baby through the night. Some worry about absolutely every decision they make–from dressing or feeding the baby, to going outside. Sometimes the worries become ruminations: repetitive, intrusive, scary, unwanted thoughts or images. These can be hard to control and are scary. It is normal to feel anxious at times, but anxiety becomes a concern when it takes over, lasts a long time, and interferes with pleasure, relationships, or daily functioning.
BRIA individual therapists can help you learn strategies to manage anxiety. In BRIA group therapy, you can connect with other women who have similar experiences and learn from our skilled group leaders. Mindful Movement classes can also teach you new skills for coping with anxiety. BRIA’s mother-friendly and non-shaming lactation consultants can help you navigate the world of nursing, which is often a huge source of new mom anxiety. Connecting with our Care Coordinator and completing a MINI Mental Health Assessment will help you understand how BRIA’s services can help you. If your symptoms of anxiety are interfering with your everyday life, a BRIA Care Coordinator may suggest a MAXI Mental Health Assessment for a more in-depth treatment plan.
Feelings of sadness and despair can be painful and consuming.
Depression is an illness that makes you feel deeply distraught and intensely sad, and it may even prevent you from experiencing joy from your baby. But the symptoms often go beyond sadness, and they fall into three main categories: 1) physical symptoms, such as trouble sleeping and low energy; 2) symptoms that impact your thinking, such as trouble with focus and memory; and 3) emotional symptoms, including feeling flat, guilt, regret, and hopelessness. Because this is a challenging time of life, many women think that it is “normal” to struggle, or they are told by other people that what they are experiencing is “part of the package” of having a new baby. This misinformation perpetuates suffering for new moms. Even though there are overlapping symptoms– fatigue, appetite changes, poor sleep– it is not “normal” to feel prolonged sadness, hopelessness, or negativity as a new parent, and these are signs that you need to get some help.
You may find it very helpful to talk to one of our individual therapists about what you are going through, and explain your dark feelings. Our therapists are experts in helping women cope with the challenges of the postpartum period and the early days of parenting. BRIA’s group therapy sessions will help you connect with other women who have similar experiences and are honest about the challenges of being a new mom. A BRIA expert, including our sleep therapist, registered dietitian, or parenting coach, can also help you address other struggles that are impacting your mood. Connecting with our Care Coordinator and completing a MINI Mental Health Assessment will help you understand how BRIA’s diverse services can help you. If your symptoms of depression are interfering with your everyday life, a BRIA Care Coordinator may suggest a more detailed MAXI Mental Health Assessment. If you are having any thoughts of self-harm or suicide, this may indicate more severe depression, and you need to get urgent care from your primary care provider, go to the nearest emergency department, or call the Canadian Suicide Hotline at 1-833-456-4566.
Postpartum depression is often associated with feeling alone and disconnected from others.
Sometimes being a new parent can feel really lonely. This is particularly true when people struggle with mental health issues after delivery, and during the COVID-19 pandemic when new moms avoid going out or seeing other people. Many women may feel that they can’t connect with others who seem to be thriving as parents, or they avoid friends and family for fear of being judged and labelled a “bad mother”. Sometimes women stay at home alone all day with the baby because they feel it’s too much effort to go out. Relationships may be strained during this time, due to anger and resentment, and this can increase a sense of loneliness, even at home. Or, a single person may have a hard time if they have few reliable supports. It may feel like you are the only one struggling as a new parent – but you are not alone.
BRIA’s postpartum adjustment groups are a comfortable, inclusive and supportive place to share how difficult it can be as a new parent. In group therapy, women make connections with others who understand their struggles; there are no judgements, just encouragement guided by a mental health professional. Couples therapy may also help if you have a partner and need help adjusting your relationship expectations and learning how to communicate as new parents. BRIA individual therapists are always available, if a one-to-one therapeutic connection seems best for you.
Many women feel intense anger and other strong emotions postpartum and are not sure what to do about them.
Rage, frustration, irritability — you name it, women experience it. Women who are struggling postpartum may feel angry that their life has changed so drastically and may even regret the decision to have a baby. There is often resentment towards their partner or family member who don’t doesn’t “get it” and aren’t helpful enough. Anger is often a secondary emotion and is really a manifestation of underlying sadness, grief, helplessness or anxiety. Sometimes hormone fluctuations that happen after delivery can be associated with intense irritability. Lack of sleep can also lead to anger or rage. Sometimes women develop severe premenstrual symptoms when their periods return postpartum, and they feel intense anger and rage in the week leading up to their period. You may feel ashamed that your emotions are getting the best of you, but this is usually a sign that something deeper is happening.
Talking to a BRIA individual therapist can help you process your feelings during such a stressful time, and help you understand what is beneath the anger. Sometimes correcting your sleep (or your baby’s sleep) with the help of a sleep consultant may reduce irritable feelings. If you have a partner and find that your relationship is suffering, a BRIA couples therapist can help you and your partner with better communication to diffuse the anger. In addition, BRIA Mindful Movement classes can allow you to channel strong feelings and release them.
Guilt, self-blame, and doubt lead to an endless loop of negativity and can be paralyzing.
At a time when there is so much pressure to be joyful and grateful, many new mothers who struggle with mental health issues feel ashamed that they are not loving parenthood. Social media messages and images of new moms thriving – “eating clean”, energetically working out, appearing happy, and doing the perfect thing for their baby at every moment – also contribute to feelings of inadequacy and shame. Many new moms feel guilty when they have difficulty breastfeeding, or when they don’t think their child is meeting milestones. They may blame themselves for not doing enough. This endless loop of guilt and self-blame can be devastating. Intense guilt can also be a sign of underlying depression or anxiety.
BRIA’s individual therapists can help you address these difficult feelings, develop acceptance, and create a more peaceful state of mind. Group therapy may also be helpful by connecting you to like-minded individuals who are also navigating the real-life messiness of parenting, and teaching you how to reduce negative thought loops. If you are also experiencing guilt as part of significant depression or anxiety, a BRIA Care Coordinator may suggest a more detailed MAXI Mental Health Assessment to treat underlying concerns. Our mother-friendly lactation consultant can help you with breastfeeding challenges while reassuring you that “fed is best”. If you want to explore other healthy ways to eat, sleep, or move, BRIA has registered dietitians, adult and baby sleep consultants, and movement classes that will help you develop realistic and practical plans and learn to feel more empowered as a new parent.
Many women feel scared by the responsibility of caring for a newborn and the changes in their body, relationships, and life.
Fear is a familiar feeling for many new mothers. Some people are scared about whether their baby is eating enough, or whether their baby is healthy, or whether they are doing “enough” to ensure their child thrives. Having a baby during the COVID-19 pandemic has added a significant layer of uncertainty and fear for many people; trying to avoid getting ill, concerns about vaccines, and decisions about exposure risks can be overwhelming. Other women feel nervous about their body “returning to normal”, especially after a traumatic delivery. Most women fear that they will lose their identity once they become a mother, and that they will never regain any of their old life back.
A BRIA individual therapist can compassionately listen, guide, and support you through this time. Group therapy is another helpful option, so that you can feel connected with other women who are enduring similar struggles and learn skills to cope with fear and change. If you want to get support around nursing your baby with more confidence or changing how you feed your baby, a BRIA lactation consultant can help. If you want advice about sleep training your baby, BRIA has sensitive sleep consultants who can help. BRIA experts are mother-friendly specialists who can help you develop realistic, practical plans and teach you new skills to support your adjustment to parenting.
Postpartum stress, anxiety, and depression can all interfere with quality sleep.
Sleep is an elusive dream for almost every new mother, so it’s difficult to know if not getting enough sleep is “normal” or part of a larger problem. Given the opportunity, usually a new mom is out like a light the moment the baby is tucked in. If you are unable to sleep at night on an ongoing basis, even when your baby is sleeping, it is cause for concern. If you feel totally exhausted and want to sleep but cannot calm yourself down enough to fall asleep, or if you lie in bed while worries and doubts race through your mind, this is a problem. The inability to sleep, or insomnia, is one of the most common symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety. Sometimes women with postpartum mental health issues have the opposite of insomnia— they need much more sleep than usual or they may be using sleep to escape from their new reality. Being tired is a reality of new motherhood, but insomnia or a constant and incapacitating need for sleep may signal concerning mental health issues.
At BRIA, we can help to treat postpartum sleep issues. Our sleep consultant can offer expert guidance to get you to a better place. If your baby needs to be sleep trained so that you can rest well at night, a BRIA sleep consultant can teach you gentle strategies to make this happen. Mindful Movement classes can teach you strategies to get more sleep. We may also recommend a more comprehensive MAXI Mental Health Assessment to determine if you are struggling with a significant underlying mental health issue that can impact your sleep — then we will focus on treating this specific issue.
Sometimes running away on your own feels like the only solution
Many new moms have “escape fantasies” at particularly rough moments in the day. They may have fleeting thoughts about walking out the front door and fleeing from their life and their overwhelming new responsibility. These types of thoughts are not uncommon among new mothers and are nothing to worry about if they happen infrequently and quickly subside after a few minutes of calm. After all, caring for a newborn can be really rough and it is normal to want a break and some time to yourself. But if you find that you cannot stop thinking about getting away, that you don’t want to care for your baby at all, or that your baby and your family would be better off without you, this is different. This signals that there is an underlying postpartum mental health concern that needs to be taken care of as soon as possible.
You may find it very helpful to talk to one of our individual therapists about what you are going through and how you are feeling. Our therapists are non-judgemental and empathetic experts who help women cope with the challenges of the postpartum period and the early days of parenting. BRIA group therapy sessions will help you connect with other women who have similar experiences and learn strategies to deal with this new life phase. If it feels like sleep disruptions or parenting challenges are contributing to the sense of feeling overwhelmed, a BRIA sleep consultant or parenting consultant can also help. Connecting with our Care Coordinator and completing a MINI Mental Health Assessment will help you understand how BRIA’s diverse services can help you. If your “escape fantasies” persist, a BRIA Care Coordinator may suggest a more in-depth MAXI Mental Health Assessment. If you are having any thoughts of self-harm or suicide, you need to get urgent care from your primary care provider, go to the nearest emergency department, or call the Canadian Suicide Hotline at 1-833-456-4566.
1 in 5 Canadian women is struggling with a mental health problem today — you are not alone.
Start by taking BRIA’s quiz to understand your symptoms and stressors.
The BRIA MINI will provide you with a personalised Care Plan.
When a BRIA Care Coordinator meets with you for a MINI Mental Health Assessment, she will learn about your symptoms, stressors, and struggles and will create a Care Plan just for you. Your Care Plan will outline which BRIA services may help you. The MINI is your starting point on your MD-designed journey with BRIA.
Our team of professional therapists can teach you the tools you need to feel better.
New parents often find that therapy helps them cope with the stresses of parenting, intense worry or sadness, and accepting their new role and identity changes. BRIA therapists are experts in mental health counselling for new mothers, and provide a safe space to address sensitive issues. Whether you see a therapist with expertise in supportive therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or Behavioural Activation, a BRIA therapist will listen compassionately and ensure that you develop the tools you need to feel better.
You and your partner can talk to a therapist to address conflict and communication issues.
During a major life transition time such as having a baby, people often find that their relationship with their partner takes a hit. The postpartum period can be a stressful time, and even the best relationships can suffer. Plus, if your relationship was strained before your baby was born, it can worsen under stress. Since the postpartum period is a time of intense upheaval, it is common for couples to fight more often or to retreat from one another and build up resentment. BRIA expert couples therapists can help you and your partner learn to communicate better, share your feelings, and develop the skills you need to navigate the ups and downs of the menopause transition.
You will join people who are experiencing similar issues to openly share, receive support, and learn new skills.
People who are struggling postpartum often feel particularly alone and out of sync with their friends, family, and peers. This isolation can be very painful. Group therapy is a safe and confidential place to be honest and open about your struggles. You will get non-judgemental support from others who share the same experiences, under the guidance of a compassionate mental health professional.
The MAXI offers an in-depth assessment of mental health concerns by an expert mental health professional.
If our Care Coordinator recommends further mental health evaluation after your MINI, you will be referred to the MAXI Mental Health Assessment. This is a more detailed assessment by a mental health professional. In the MAXI, you will get recommendations for therapy and other services to address your concerns
At BRIA, our team of expert MDs can treat the physical issues that may be impacting your mental health after pregnancy.
If our Care Coordinator recommends a hormonal assessment after your MINI, you will be referred to the MEDI Health Assessment. This is an assessment by a trained women’s healthcare professional. In the MEDI, you will get an assessment of your physical, hormonal, and mental health at midlife. Following this assessment, you may get recommendations for hormonal treatments, medications or other therapies.
Getting a good night’s sleep is critical for mental health and wellbeing. We can assess sleep issues and get you much needed night time rest.
At BRIA, we know sleep is crucial. We also know how many women struggle with sleep, especially during the postpartum period. This is why we have brought together a team of experts to help with your sleep and to help sleep-train your child. A BRIA sleep consultant will assess your sleep, create a sleep plan just for you, and help you implement that plan effectively.
Classes by an expert yoga and mindfulness instructor will teach you tools to support your mental health in the postpartum period.
BRIA offers an accessible movement class that will include yoga, breath-work, and relaxation. Classes encourage physical openness, strength, stability, and harmony. Mindfulness meditation will be infused throughout the classes to address an array of mental health concerns, such as anxiety, depression, and even insomnia. No previous experience is required.
No matter where you are on your parenting journey, we can support you and your family.
A BRIA parenting coaches can help you at any stage. She can be especially helpful when your toddler is going through transitions: toilet-training, starting daycare, or accepting a new baby at home. She will first get to know your family, then learn about your parenting goals, design a parenting plan, and support you as you put that plan into action at home. Navigating parenthood is very complicated, so engaging with a parenting coach can help both new or seasoned parents.
We offer nutrition and lifestyle assessments, goal setting, and ongoing check-ins to support you in the postpartum and early parenting periods.
BRIA’s registered dietitians are experts in providing nutritional support for hormone health, period and reproductive wellness, and disordered eating. Using a “non-diet” approach, or Health At Every Size (HAES), our registered dieticians understand that healthy nourishment can enhance a person’s mental health and well-being at every life stage.
BRIA lactation consultants can support you after your baby arrives. At BRIA, we believe that fed is best.
BRIA offers lactation consulting with your mental health in mind. We will work with you and your family to ensure that feeding is working for parent and baby. A BRIA lactation consultant will make suggestions and help you develop a comfortable feeding plan.
Our experienced health care providers and guest speakers will share their wisdom and answer your questions.
BRIA educational classes provide an opportunity to learn about an array of women’s mental health issues. We have engaging speakers who can facilitate productive discussions on a variety of topics, such as dealing with social media pressures as a new parent, regaining your sex life postpartum, implementing better sleep habits, and making smart career transitions. Ask questions and learn effective, up-to-date information to help you on your mental health journey, no matter what stage you are in.
As experts in women’s mental health care, we understand that part of recovering from mental health struggles is learning about them. Knowledge improves awareness, reduces stigma, and helps everyone feel less ashamed.