What were we thinking! promote confidence and reduce distress in parents with a first baby

Power is knowledge, and support is key

By Fiona Darling

Power is knowledge, and support is key

As a social worker I’ve worked with young women and families where the arrival of a new baby understandably affects relationships, physical health and mental wellbeing. Providing support for the challenges and difficulties that parenthood can bring, while helping to highlight the strengths new parents have, is an important part of working in family settings.

Part of this involves looking at relationships, family and parenting issues, support systems and mental health and wellbeing. Linking to relevant community networks and programs, or providing referrals to services and information, can assist and support parents in ways that will work for them. Websites like Raising Children Network, Young, Pregnant and Parenting, Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia and the Australian Government’s Pregnancy, Birth and Baby provide access to quality information and links to local networks, groups, online forums and professional support that can be beneifical at this time.

When it comes to managing mental health and wellbeing, it's impossible to tell parents what it will feel like to be pregnant or have a baby. It can be joyous for some, but for many it can also be a time of worry and anxiety. Being worried and anxious during pregnancy and early parenthood is not uncommon, however it's when anxiety starts to interfere with daily life that it is time to do look at further support.

When it comes to helping parents understand and distinguish between what may be ‘normal’ or reasonable experiences of worry, and what may be unhealthy or unhelpful thoughts, websites that offer practical tools and information on symptoms, causes and ways to manage these feelings can be really useful and accessible for parents.

Fiona Darling is a Social Worker and Senior Project Officer at Jean Hailes for Women’s Health. Jean Hailes for Women's Health develops and undertakes innovative research, education and clinical programs to promote the development and implementation of key health strategies for women. Good mental health for women is an important area of this health strategy. For more information visit http://anxiety.jeanhailes.org.au/

Posted in:  A new reality  Baby 0-4 weeks  Health Professionals  Late pregnancy  Your needs