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 The Neuroscience of Parenting and Perinatal Mental Health.

This training is for health care professionals who want to improve their knowledge of how the brain changes during pregnancy and the postpartum period in birthing and non-birthing parents. We will look at the science of 'mommy brain' and the negative narrative that often occurs when we talk about the brain and motherhood, how to modify this, and how to rethink the brain in parenthood.

We will also focus on understanding what brain changes are associated with perinatal mental illness, looking at how mental load, stress and disease can impact the parental brain. Finally, we will cover how to ‘protect’ the parental brain and what factors can improve brain health, including psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy. 

This course aims to provide science-based facts about the amazing changes that occur in the brains of parents and also provide insight into what factors can contribute to brain health and illness.

Program Outline: 

Module 1: Introduction to the brain 

✔️ Identify key brain areas important for parenting.

✔️ Understand their respective roles in parental behaviour.

✔️ Recognize the brain networks important for emotional processing, decision-making, stress response, empathy, and attachment in the context of parenting.

When: Wednesday, Sept 11th - Live & Online 1hr
Self-paced course content 1hr
8:00PT / 9:00 MT / 10:00CT / 11:00 ET / 12:00 AT

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Module 2: What is Mommy Brain? 

✔️ Critically evaluate the use of "mommy brain" in society today and what it means for our perception of maternal brain function.

✔️ Develop an understanding of what science says about "mommy brain" with a focus on memory and motherhood. 

✔️ Develop strategies for discussing "mommy brain" with clients.

When: Wednesday, Sept 18th -  Live & Online 1hr
Self-paced course content 1hr
8:00PT / 9:00 MT / 10:00CT / 11:00 ET / 12:00 AT

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Module 3: Brain Changes in Birthing Parents

✔️ Summarize key brain changes during pregnancy and postpartum in birthing parents.

✔️ Understand how these brain changes relate to parenting, previous pregnancy, and hormone fluctuations.

✔️ Discuss the misconceptions about how the mode of feeding may relate to the developing parental brain.

When: Wednesday, Sept 25th -  Live & Online 1hr
Self-paced course content 1hr
8:00PT / 9:00 MT / 10:00CT / 11:00 ET / 12:00 AT

Module 4: Brain Changes in Non-Birthing Parents

✔️ Summarize key brain changes during pregnancy and postpartum in non-birthing parents including fathers, foster, and adoptive parents.

✔️ Evaluate the importance of experience caregiving on the parental brain.

✔️ Understand the key hormonal changes that are associated with brain changes in non-birthing parents.

When: Wednesday, October 2nd -  Live & Online 1hr
Self-paced course content 1hr
8:00PT / 9:00 MT / 10:00CT / 11:00 ET / 12:00 AT

Module 5: Attachment and the Parental Brain

✔️ Identify the key principles and misconceptions surrounding the science of attachment.

✔️ Understanding the role of attachment on parent-child neural synchrony.

✔️ Reflect on integrating the science of attachment into current personal and professional practices.

When: Wednesday, October 9th -  Live & Online 1hr
Self-paced course content 1hr
8:00PT / 9:00 MT / 10:00CT / 11:00 ET / 12:00 AT

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Module 6: The Mental Load of Motherhood

✔️ Evaluate various factors that contribute to the mental load of parenting.

✔️ Understand how different stressors can impact the function of the parental brain.

✔️ Discuss strategies for alleviating mental load and promoting brain health.

When: Wednesday, October 16th -  Live & Online 1hr
Self-paced course content 1hr
8:00PT / 9:00 MT / 10:00CT / 11:00 ET / 12:00 AT

Module 7: Perinatal Mental Health and the Brain Part 1

✔️ Review the biopsychosocial factors impacting perinatal mental illness.

✔️ Summarize key brain changes in parents struggling with perinatal depression (PND), anxiety, and psychosis.

✔️ Discuss how to integrate this knowledge into strategies for providing support and intervention for clients.

When: Wednesday, October 23rd -  Live & Online 1hr
Self-paced course content 1hr
8:00PT / 9:00 MT / 10:00CT / 11:00 ET / 12:00 AT 

Module 8: Perinatal Mental Health and the Brain Part 2

✔️ Summarize key brain changes associated with childbirth-related trauma and pregnancy loss.

✔️ Recognize the complexity of these experiences and their overlap with depression.

✔️ Discuss how these experiences may be linked to both brain and physiological changes.

When: Wednesday, October 30th -  Live & Online 1hr
Self-paced course content 1hr
8:00PT / 9:00 MT / 10:00CT / 11:00 ET / 12:00 AT 

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Module 9: Supporting Perinatal Brain Health Part 1

✔️ Understand the core principles of S.E.L.F. (Sleep, Exercise, Leisure, and Food) and how they relate to brain health.

✔️ Provide an overview of how parenting interventions, social support, and psychotherapy can alter the parental brain.

✔️ Discuss the role of supplements in the treatment perinatal mental illness.

When: Wednesday, November 6th -  Live & Online 1hr
Self-paced course content 1hr
8:00PT / 9:00 MT / 10:00CT / 11:00 ET / 12:00 AT
 

Module 10: Supporting Perinatal Brain Health Part 2:

✔️ identify the current research with regard to the safety and efficacy of  perinatal SSRI use.

✔️ Understand the mechanisms of Zulresso and Zurzavae - new therapies for perinatal depression

✔️ Summarize current research on the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation for the treatment perinatal mental illness.

When: Wednesday, November 13th -  Live & Online 1hr
Self-paced course content 1hr
8:00PT / 9:00 MT / 10:00CT / 11:00 ET / 12:00 AT

Module 11: Putting the Parenatal Brain into Perspective Part 1

✔️ Discuss the role of parental brain health in society.

✔️ Integrate neurobiological knowledge into strategies for supporting parental well-being and mitigating mental health risks.

✔️ Discuss the multiple factors that can promote and support parental brain health from child-care access, health care options, and beyond.

When: Wednesday, November 20th -  Live & Online 1hr
Self-paced course content 1hr
8:00PT / 9:00 MT / 10:00CT / 11:00 ET / 12:00 AT 

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Module 12: Putting the Parental Brain into Perspective Part 2

✔️ Discussion and wrap up! 

When: Wednesday, November 27th - 1hr
8:00PT / 9:00 MT / 10:00CT / 11:00 ET / 12:00 AT

 Would you like to learn more about our programs? We're happy to chat with you and help you decide if they're right for you. Click the link below to schedule a Meet & Greet session!

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Program developed by special guest facilitator Dr Jodi Pawluski, PhD, HDR, PMH-C, PhD, HDR, PMH-C

Jodi (she/her) is a Canadian Behavioral Neuroscientist, Psychotherapist, and Author. She completed her BSc in Biopsychology from the University of British Columbia, her MA in Psychology from the University of Toronto, a PhD in Neuroscience from the University of British Columbia, and a Habilitation Degree (HDR) in Life Sciences from the University of Rennes. Her current research is affiliated with the Institut de recherche en santé, environnement et travail (Irset, UMR_S 1085), a research unit of the INSERM institute, the University of Rennes, France.

For over fifteen years, Jodi has studied the neuroscience of motherhood and the effects of perinatal mental illness and antidepressant medications on the mother and developing offspring. Her work has been published in high-ranking peer-reviewed journals, including top neuroscience journals such as JAMA Neurology and Trends in Neurosciences.

She regularly speaks nationally and internationally about her research findings and the fascinating effects of parenting on the brain. She is active in counseling, mentoring, and advocating for improvements to perinatal mental health care and research on the parental brain.

Dr Pawluski's work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, CNN, The Boston Globe, Die Zeit, Elle, Marie Claire, to name a few. She has also discussed all things mommy brain on national radio in France (FranceInter) and BBC Radio Woman's Hour.

In 2020 Dr. Pawluski started a podcast called Mommy Brain Revisited, which focuses on bringing current research on the parental brain to the general public. She also recently published a book titled Mommy Brain: Discover the Amazing Power of the Maternal Brain (Demeter Press, and in French at Larousse).

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We offer professional development for perinatal mental health professionals. Our trainings are inter-professional; we welcome social workers, psychotherapists, clinical psychologists, midwives, nurses, naturopaths, OB’s, psychiatrists, pelvic floor physiotherapists, family doctors, community organizers, pediatricians, coaches, or sleep consultants.

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