‘Mindful with your baby’ is a mindful parenting training for parents with a baby. This training is based on the 8-week mindful parenting training, as developed by Susan Bögels and Kathleen Restifo, and on the Infant Mental Health (IMH) vision. An important element in the training is the watching meditation, with attention for the baby.
Besides an overwhelming feeling of love and happiness that can accompany the birth of a baby, also stress can arise in this period. There is a elevated prevalence of mental health problems in parents after the birth of a baby. These problems, but also problems related to pregnancy and birth, (medical) problems with the baby, or problems in the family or the broader netwerk, heighten the stress for parents and child, and can put the early parent-child relationship under pressure. The Mindful with your baby training is meant for parents with an infant from 0 to 18 months, who experience stress, and who would like to learn how to regulate their stress in a different way, to take care of themselves better, be more attentive with their baby, and/or want to improve the interaction with their baby.
The training exists of 8 weekly sessions of 2 hours long, of which 6 sessions voor parents and babies together and 2 sessions with parents only, and a follow-up sessions for parents and babies together. The training is given in little groups with 4 to 6 parents with their baby.
In the training, mothers learn to become aware of their own experiences, even in the presence of their baby, to take care of themselves and be kind to themselves. They also learn to focus their full attention on their baby, reflect on the experiences of the baby, so that they can react as sensitively as possible tot he needs of their baby. Lastly, they learn to use mindfulness during stressful situations with their baby, for example when their baby cries and when they feel insecure, powerless, or frustrated. By practicing all this in the presence of their babies, it becomes easier to also apply the learned abilities in the home situation where they need it most.
Research, done by UvA minds, on the effects of Mindful with your baby has shown that after the training, mothers feel more positive in relationship to their baby, and experience the temperament of their baby as easier. Mothers also show a decrease in psychopathology and parenting stress and an increase in self-compassion, mindfulness and mindful parenting. Another study on the mother-child interaction, that made use of video-observations, and that was carried out in a collaboration with the University of Amsterdam, showed that mothers become more accepting of their babies, and that they are better in interpreting the signs of the babies. This study also showed that babies become more responsive towards their mothers after the training.
The Mindful with your baby training is being given by a mindful parenting or mindfulness trainer that has also finished the Mindful with your baby teacher training. During the training sessions, there is always a second person available. In clinical groups, this should be an IMH specialist, or at least someone who has knowledge about, and experience with the psychological treatment of parents and their babies. In non-clinical groups, this second person can be for example an intern, who can be available in an attentive and non-judgmental way, and who can ensure the physical and emotional safety of the babies during the meditations in which the parents close their eyes. This second trainer, who has a different role than the mindful parenting/mindfulness trainer, is also welcome to follow the Mindful with your baby teacher training.
The Mindful with your baby teacher training is a short training that builds on knowledge and experience that the participants already have. It is therefore important that participants clarify for themselves what they are able to offer, given their professional background. Mindful with your baby can be offered in different groups of parents, and it is important to choose consciously for a group that fits with your knowledge and experience. It is, for example, not possible to give Mindful with your baby in specialist mental health care if you are not already a therapist in this setting. On the other hand, it is possible to offer Mindful with your baby as a preventive intervention in your pregnancy yoga or baby massage studio, if you do a short intake to asses whether particiapnts indeed fit in the target group of your practice/studio.
If you do this teacher training as an IMH-specialist (and you are nota lso a mindfulness trainer), you will need to find an experienced mindful parenting/mindfulness trainer to give the training with.
As described above, you can do the teacher training as either a mindful parenting/mindfulness trainer, or as an IMH-specialist/parent-baby therapist. These two roles can be combined in one teache training, because this teacher training is not a mindfulness teacher training in the strict meaning of the word. We will not teach you how to give meditations, how to lead an inquiry, and how to give psychoeducation. For mindful parenting/mindfulness trainers, it is assumed that that a basis in these abilities has been laid already, so that a mindfulness training can be given. What this teacher training is about, is how you can give a mindfulness training for this specific group: parents and babies, and most importantly, how you adjust giving a mindfulness straining when the babies are present. How is it to lead a meditation meanwhile hearing the sounds of the babies that are present? When do you continue following the protocol, and when do you need to make space for what happens in the room with a parent and a baby? How is it for a parent to close the eyes to meditate when her/his baby is present? And how is it for a baby to be in an unknown situation, and to be with a parent that has the eyes closed? How do you make sure that the situation is comfortable and secure for the baby, and which adjustments do you make if you feel that the situation is no longer right for the baby?
Another important meditation that will be taught is the watching meditation with attention for the baby. And we will practice with giving a 3-minute breathing space in a situation that is experienced as stressful by a parent in the training. Taking a breathing space in such a moment is often not easy for parents, but it is enormously valuable, and it makes parents motivated to also practice this at home with their baby. Daarnaast wordt stilgestaan bij intake en indicatie, en bij het wetenschappelijk onderzoek naar de effectiviteit van Mindful met je baby.
If you participate in the Mindful with your baby teacher training, you receive the therapist manual and workbook for parents.