The Mothers and Babies Course is a preventive, mood-management course for pregnant women and mothers in the first 12 months postpartum who are at high risk for perinatal depression. The course teaches perinatal women cognitive-behavioral mood regulation strategies, in which their thoughts, behaviors, and social contacts affect their mood and vice versa. It also explains the benefits of strengthening mother–infant bonds. The overall goals are to prevent perinatal depression, strengthen the mother–infant relationship, and enhance both the mother’s and the infant’s mental and physical health.
The course was developed in the early 1980s and was adapted from the Depression Prevention Course and the Group Cognitive Behavioral Treatment manuals. The course is based on a combination of the reality-management approach, the cognitive–behavioral approach, and the attachment model for child development. The course is designed to target sociocultural issues affecting low-income and culturally diverse communities. It is recommended for women who are 12 to 24 weeks pregnant and who do not meet the criteria for a major depressive episode at the time of enrollment.
The course can be delivered over 6, 8, or 12 weeks; it can be conducted in individual or group settings, or through home visits. Each class is 2 hours and covers topics such as bonding with children before birth, developing and strengthening the emotional bond following birth, effective parenting techniques for attachment, and the relationships between disruptions in attachment and depression. Individual client booster sessions are also available. These sessions review key material from the course and address any concerns that mothers may have after childbirth.
The home visitation version of the course condenses the 6-week course material into 15 sessions, which last 15 to 20 minutes each. Each of the home visit sessions covers two topics in the course curriculum and one activity for clients to complete before the next session.