Lethbridge mothers who are also psychologists publish book on what to expect postpartum

Caitlin Slavens, left, and Chelsea Bodie are registered psychologists in Lethbridge, Alta. (Submitted by Chelsea Bodie - image credit)
Caitlin Slavens, left, and Chelsea Bodie are registered psychologists in Lethbridge, Alta. (Submitted by Chelsea Bodie - image credit)

As a registered psychologist, Caitlin Slavens says that when she had a baby, she was convinced she would be fine.

"But I was really blown away at how much postpartum anxiety reared its ugly head," she said in an interview on The Homestretch.

"I really found my anxiety interfered with my sleeping, interfered with my eating, interfered with just going out day-to-day. So that's where I really needed to get some help in that area."

Her friend and fellow psychologist, Chelsea Bodie, had found the same thing.

No matter their mental preparedness and the tools they had, nothing could've prepared them for the emotions, thoughts and anxiety they had.

"Together, we were like we cannot be the only ones that are going through this and feeling this loneliness," Bodie said.

So, in 2020, the Lethbridge duo created Mama Psychologists, running workshops, providing guides and curating tips and advice on their Instagram page. It has about 389,000 followers.

On Jan. 17, the pair released a new book: Not Your Mother's Postpartum Book.

"There really wasn't anything that focused on the mental health experience of mom and of parents. And so we really wanted to highlight that," Bodie said.

Submitted by Chelsea Bodie
Submitted by Chelsea Bodie

Slavens says it covers topics they often felt uncomfortable speaking about as mothers, like intrusive thoughts about harm coming to their child, or even harming their child themselves.

"We found that this is such a big source of shame for moms because nobody really wants to talk about that or admit that they've had these sorts of thoughts," she said.

"But once you unpack it and you break it down, it's like this is a very normal part of new motherhood.… It's our brain's way of pointing out all of these possible dangers, even though of course we would never hurt our child, and we know that. But these thoughts can be incredibly distressing, and we think it's important to talk about them."

The book is also tailored with new parents in mind.

Knowing many new moms and dads might not have time to read a full book, they organized it like an encyclopedia, Bodie said.

"We really want it to be a one-stop shop … you can go to a chapter that you're struggling with, a particular topic, and just go through that and do the work, the strategies that are in the workbook part or even just learn about the resources."

The book covers topics like birth trauma, postpartum mental health, feeding journeys, mom guilt, burnout, social support, pregnancy loss and infertility.

Bodie said she wants new moms to walk away feeling empowered to talk about these things and know they're not alone.

"You don't have to suffer in silence."