The Background and Development of the
Bringing Baby Home Program
The Bringing Baby Home project combines scientific research and service product delivery in order to improve the quality of life for babies and children by strengthening their families. This has been accomplished first in the state of Washington, and is now being provided across the nation. Our aim is to promote social change by making the BBH workshop available as part of the standard birth preparation program offered to expectant couples in hospitals throughout the nation. If we are successful, millions of babies and young families at every socio-economic level and from every ethnic and racial group will get a strong start that is emotionally sensitive to babies and family relationships.
This project began in 1999 as a small pilot study designed by John M. Gottman and Alyson F. Shapiro. This study later grew into a full-scale program enhancement project in 2001 and will be concluded in 2005, when the youngest of our research participants is two-and-half years old. The BBH program is being evaluated through random clinical trial research involving 168 families. Each family is randomly assigned to one of three groups. One group receives both a BBH workshop and a set of subsequent support groups. A second group receives only the two-day BBH workshop shortly before the birth of their baby. The third group, the control group, does not receive either the BBH workshop or support groups until the close of the study.
By following these new families over the course of three years, we hope to determine the effects of each BBH program component on familial and parental relationships, and ultimately, the developing infants. This will enable us to further refine the BBH workshop and support groups and make these research findings concise, complete, and available to the public.
The Importance of Research
There are many intervention programs and even schools of therapy that are based solely on someone’s ideas or theory, but have not been validated by research. Research is essential for giving people information that reflects what is working for real people and for insuring that programs developed to help people really do help those it intends to serve. The Bringing Baby Home program is a research based and research tested program ready to help new families get the best start possible.
Results of program evaluation to date
We have already analyzed data from our study that shows that couples have less “relationship meltdown” up to one year after participating in our two-day workshop: higher relationship quality, less interpersonal hostility, and markedly less incidence of postpartum depression (22.5% compared to 66.5% in the control group). These statistically significant findings resulted from a small pilot study in which Drs. John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman led the Bringing Baby Home workshop. We are currently evaluating the results of the workshop and support groups given by birth educators with the goal of promoting lasting change by implementing this program through American hospitals. The interest in this project and our findings has grown so rapidly that the Swedish Medical Center in Seattle has adopted our workshop and has started making it available to the public.