The AiMH UK #IMHAW23 Bonding Before Birth conference recording is now available to purchase for £30.

The Showcase includes videos of the the speakers presentations.

(Due to unforeseen circumstances Julianne Boutaleb could not attend the conference and her presentation will be made available to attendees and purchasers of the showcase in due course).

Bonding Before Birth: Approaches for Supporting Early Parent Baby Relationships

This conference is for all practitioners supporting parents in the antenatal period and is designed to give attendees up to date knowledge and practical skills to enhance practice. This conference is part of Infant Mental Health Awareness Week 2023, Bonding Before Birth, #IMHAW2023

Participants will take away: The AiMH UK Best Practice Guide (updated for 2023): “The Relationship with The Baby Before Birth, Why it Matters” and ideas to support parents with relaxation and bonding in pregnancy. There will be a particular focus on helping parents connect with their unborn baby when it is challenging.


9:00 Welcome & Introduction to the updated Best Practice Guide: Jane Barlow

‘The Relationship with the Baby Before Birth: Why it Matters’.

9:30 Keynote Speaker – Ruth Oshikanlu – MBE QN FiHV FRCN FRSA FRSPH

‘Attachment Begins in Utero: The Vital Role of Facilitating Parental-Foetal Attachment’

Parental-foetal attachment is a complex concept and involves the emotional attachment between expectant parents and their foetus. Healthcare providers working with birthing families have a vital role to play in promoting healthy parental-foetal attachment. This presentation will outline what the parental-foetal attachment is, why it is important and ways that health care providers can support expectant parents to connect with their babies in utero.

Learn about the use of antenatal attachment scales as a tool to discuss and support antenatal attachment and how collaborative care between healthcare providers can identify those that may be at risk of poor parental-foetal attachment, and ensure that coordinated, consistent and seamless care is provided for these families. Also include will be a discussion about the impact of trauma on antenatal attachment and how expectant parents can be supported to manage their fear, anxiety and stress, parental and partner separation.

BIO: Ruth Oshikanlu is a multiple award-winning expert nurse, midwife and health visitor. Ruth is a Pregnancy Mindset Expert and supports women (and their partners) who have had assisted conception or previous pregnancy loss to enjoy their pregnancy without fear. She is the author of Tune In To Your Baby: Because Babies Don’t Come an Instruction Manual and recently wrote the chapter: PACE Yourself and Enjoy Parenting in Not Another Parenting Book.

Ruth is a speaker, mentor and coach. She is a Queen’s Nurse, Churchill Fellow, Fellow of the Institute of Health Visiting, Royal College of Nursing, The Royal Society of Arts and Royal Society for Public Health. Ruth is the recipient of several national healthcare and business awards. Ruth was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the New Year 2019 Honours List for services to community nursing, children and families.

10:30 Presentation – Rachael Loftus – Specialist Midwife- Infant Mental Health.

‘Connecting with the unborn baby through relaxation and mindfulness techniques’

Rachael will share examples from her wealth of practical techniques for promoting bonding in pregnancy using relaxation and mindfulness-based meditation.

BIO: Rachael began her midwifery career in 2005 and has worked in specialist roles supporting families with parent infant relationships for almost 10 years. Currently working in a specialist Infant Mental Health team in Bradford- Little Minds Matter, they support parents and caregivers where risks and/or difficulties have been identified within the relationship with babies from conception to age 2. She is extremely passionate about early intervention and prevention for families and also issues surrounding social justice. All babies should be supported to have loving and secure relationships with their caregivers regardless of external factors and vulnerabilities. 

11.00am Break

11.15 Presentation – Julianne Boutaleb – Consultant Perinatal Psychologist

‘Dream Babies & Nursery Ghosts:  Helping Parents Connect with their Unborn Baby after Reproductive Trauma & Loss’

1 in 7 couples in the UK experiences fertility issues and 1 in 4 pregnancy loss in the transition to parenthood. Whilst it is assumed that bonding before birth is optimal for infant mental health, what happens to the ‘baby in mind’ when parents-to-be come to parenting after such a difficult reproductive journey? How might the baby be impacted? What might the difficulties in the early parent-infant relationship be and how can we best support parents and babies through pregnancy and early postpartum?

BIO: Julianne is the Clinical Director and Founder of the Parenthood In Mind practice. She is a passionate and highly experienced perinatal psychologist who has worked for over 20 years in the NHS and private practice with parents and parents-to-be and their babies (and bumps) who have needed support with a wide variety of issues including anxiety and depression during and after pregnancy, miscarriage and reproductive loss, attachment issues, re-emergence of childhood issues and couples issues. Julianne is a member of the Birth Trauma Association and specialises in working therapeutically with birth trauma, PTSD and tokophobia (fear of giving birth) as they impact the mother, couple relationship and parent-infant attachment. In addition, she is also affiliated with BICA (British Infertility Counselling Association) and offers tailored psychological interventions for individuals and couples (including same sex couples) who are pregnant or are parenting following ART (IVF, ICSI, donor conception, surrogacy) or adoption.

12.00 Presentation – Professor Crispin Day – Head, Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services Research Unit, King’s College London, Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, United Kingdom,

Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Centre for Parent and Child Support, National and Specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, London/South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, UK

‘Welcome to BabyCHAT: A feasible, brief intervention to boost parental prenatal bonding and reflective function’

BabyCHAT is a novel, group-based, single session intervention designed to increase parent prenatal awareness of fetal and infant psychosocial development, stimulate parental bonding and reflective function. In his talk, Professor Day will describe the background, development, initial evaluation findings and implementation in practice of BabyCHAT. He will describe the content of the intervention, share examples of the materials used and describe finding from the feasibility randomised control trial conduct by Hannah Cox and colleagues (Cox et al., 2020). Prof Day will finish by describing recent applications of BabyChat in perinatal mental health services in south London.

Professor Day will share research findings about the innovative ‘Baby CHAT’ program designed to promote parental reflective function, encourage parents to communicate with their unborn baby and enhance feelings of closeness. (This will be a recorded presentation).

We are delighted that we will be joined by Joanna Gibbons, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, who leads the Helping Families Team where BabyChat has been trialled and Clinical Psychologist, Francesca Muccio who facilitates Baby Chat antenatal classes.  They will share their experiences of Baby Chat in practice and take questions about the BabyChat approach.”

BIOProfessor Day’s work focusses the development, implementation and dissemination of evidence-based interventions and practice methods intended to help parents give their children the best start in life, from pregnancy to adolescence. These include peer-led community and early intervention such as Empowering Parents, Empowering Communities Being a Parent and Baby & Us (Day et al., 2012, 2020a, 2020b), Helping Families Programme (Day et al 2020), a specialist parenting interventions for parents with severe mental health difficulties and child neglect and abuse, as well as early life approaches such as the Antenatal/Postnatal Promotional Guide system (Day, 2014) and more recently BabyCHAT (Cox et al., 2020).

Dr Day leads a clinical research, development and dissemination programme involving feasibility, randomised controlled trials, qualitative methodologies and human-centred design methods. He is also involved in a number of field and research trials examining the use of digital technology and social media platforms to improve family mental health knowledge and outcomes. Dr Day works with closely colleagues in China, Japan, Australasia and Europe to culturally adapt and implement these programmes in a global context.

12:30 Conference End


Members: £40.00

Non-members: £60.00

If you wish a team / members of an organisation to attend and need an invoice raising please get in touch with Lin Carruthers

Download the programme

#IMHAW2023 Bonding Before Birth

Infant Mental Health Awareness Week will take place from the 12th–18th June 2023 on the theme of ‘Bonding Before Birth’.

What is Infant Mental Health Awareness Week?

Infant mental health is an often overlooked and misunderstood subject. Infant Mental Health Awareness Week provides an annual opportunity to discuss the importance of babies’ mental health and wellbeing as well as some of the issues that affect it and is run by the Parent Infant Foundation.

Why Bonding Before Birth?

Research shows that the experiences and relationships we have in the earliest years of our lives, including before birth, impact on the development of our brains. Stress and adversity experienced during pregnancy can have a negative impact on babies’ physical and mental health as they grow, but this doesn’t have to be the case. The services in place to support mothers, birthing people, partners and families in pregnancy can make a huge difference. Our hope is that this year’s Infant Mental Health Awareness Week will increase awareness of the importance of bonding before birth, and build support for the services which we know can help.

More information on the IMHAW2023 can be found on the Parent Infant Foundation Website