Dr Caroline Boyd is a Clinical Psychologist who specialises in intrusive thoughts and anger. Her new book ‘Mindful New Mum’ is a practical, compassionate toolkit for a pregnant woman to draw on to feel more connected to themselves during their wild and wonderful mothering journey. We started Don’t Buy Her Flowers with new mums in mind so it’s always a pleasure to revisit where we began and think about what new mums, and pregnant women really appreciate and feel supported by. Caroline’s book is available in the Create a Pregnancy Care Package and she has always put together a package selection of products to accompany her book.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I’m a chartered clinical psychologist with over 10 years’ experience working in the NHS and mental health settings. I support parents perinatally – from pregnancy to childbirth and around the tough, tender transition to parenthood.

I love my work. Birthing a new identity can be as demanding as birthing a baby – whether it’s your first or fifth. We know dads can really struggle too. In my independent psychology practice, Parent Therapy Hub, I offer a safe, non-judgmental space for mums to make sense of changes to their multiple, intersecting identities. So women can honour and accept the kind of mum they want to be.

Pressures to parent perfectly and do it all alone are crushing mothers under their weight. Even for women with good support, becoming a parent can trigger and tap into all kinds of vulnerabilities. I’m interested in how difficult experiences growing up and cultural myths (e.g. Western ideas of ‘Supermum’) intersect to influence this life-changing transition. I work collaboratively with women around a range of difficulties including postpartum anxiety, intrusive thoughts, anger, low mood and birth trauma

I love the variety that being a psychologist brings me. Last year I had the honour of delivering online groups as part of an NHS-funded trial supporting vulnerable mums around difficult emotions postpartum. I also delivered teaching on wellbeing for NHS doctors returning to work after a break.

How have you found the last two years?

It’s been busy! As was the case for many parents, I found it challenging home-schooling my two children during lockdowns while continuing to work. I feel acutely aware of the stark inequalities highlighted in the pandemic.

Personally, it’s been the start of a big journey of growth and discovery as the pandemic prompted a re-evaluation of what I wanted my work life to look like. I left my NHS job in an East London community psychology service to return to my specialism – pregnancy, birth and parenting – and to share my published research findings on intrusive thoughts in early motherhood more widely. I also wanted to work in a way that felt emotionally sustainable and live out my Values through my work, which places the mother at the heart. So I set up the Parent Therapy Hub along with my Instagram platform (@_drboyd). I believe knowledge is power. I  speak at conferences and share psychology ideas in the media, on IG, my blog and on podcasts such as Motherkind.

The pandemic reminded me of the importance of slowing down. There’s so much in our modern world competing for our attention, but learning to tune in to what’s going for us internally means bringing an embodied presence to life. Otherwise we’re in danger of missing the whole point – to be here now.

Your new book ‘Mindful New Mum’ has just been published (congratulations!). Why did you want to write this book? What do you hope it will do for new or expectant mums?

Thank you! When I was asked to write Mindful New Mum, I knew I wanted to make it as helpful as possible for a new mum. I’ve read lots of the parenting books & research so mothers don’t have to – my aim is to share ideas accessibly in a way I hope reassures & anchors new mums.

I wrote Mindful New Mum as an antidote to all the parenting manuals prescribing a “right” way to mother. I offer holistic care with a focus on mindful compassion, evidence-based psychology ideas, meditations, visualisations plus nutritional advice, natural remedies, baby massage & yoga.

Birthing this baby was a real labour of love – bringing together all my ideas & experience from my clinical practice, published research and my own experience as a parent.

I really hope my book helps mums understand:

  • Significant brain, body, and identity shifts during this transformation known as “matrescence”.
  • The intense, emotional rollercoaster of this first year, explaining why experiencing feelings such as anger & anxiety doesn’t make you a “bad” mother.
  • Why it’s important to learn to self-soothe, with practical psychological strategies to help you nurture yourself, as well as soothe your baby.
  • Why couple dynamics shift with the arrival of a baby, and ways to stay connected.
  • How to use your values to guide your decision-making, making choices that fit for YOUR family.
  • I also include info on intrusive thoughts – & real-life experiences from mums.

If you were only allowed to tell a new or expectant mum one thing, what would it be?

To learn to self-soothe. Parenting is both tender and tough – my take-home message for mums is that’s absolutely essential to look after yourself. I often use the the aeroplane oxygen mask analogy: just as a mother needs to apply her own mask first, she must also learn to soothe herself before she can soothe her baby.

This is why I draw on mindful compassion in my book – mindfulness teaches us to pay attention to our mind and body with kindness and acceptance. To develop a kinder relationship with ourselves.

What is the best gift someone has ever bought for you, or the most thoughtful thing someone has ever done for you?

For me, it’s the small things. My husband making me a cup of tea when I need one (often!). A close friend checking in. One of my kids wrapping their arms around me for a snuggle.

What makes you laugh? 

My 6-year-old. He has some funny facial expressions. When my sister told him she was pregnant he said: ‘Wow! I didn’t see that coming.”

Words to live by? 

Slow down. Feel the fear and do it anyway. Remind yourself of the mantra: ‘It’ll be ok”.

You can find Dr Caroline Boyd’s book ‘Mindful New Mum’ in our packages and in her package selection The Mindful New Mum Package.