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

For Professionals

There is an increasing expectation that in addition to providing information and developmental assessments, primary health care professionals will give mental health care to mothers with new babies. Many mothers feel anxious as they learn to care for a first baby and for some low mood, irritability and diminished enjoyment are problematic. WWWT is a carefully researched, evidence-based set of materials and activities designed to promote confidence and reduce distress in parents with a first baby.

WWWT website can be used in two ways:

  1. Individuals and couples can use the self-directed interactive website. It provides a series of worksheets addressing skills and knowledge known to be useful in adjusting to the new tasks and demands of life with a new baby in the For Parents section.
  2. The For Professionals section includes background theory and technical information and suggests ways in which the WWWT Program can be incorporated into mothers' groups and seminars for new parents. The materials are designed to be attractive, engaging and accessible; to enhance the programs already run by early childhood health professionals for parents with newborns; and to promote mental health.

The WWWT Program

WWWT is designed as a two-session program, which can be run in a single block, with small groups of couples and their newborn infants. The program is designed to be offered at local health centres, appropriately constructed as safe environments for parents and infants. It is intended to be conducted four to six weeks postpartum, at a time that is convenient to parents, and facilitated by an experienced maternal and child health or early childhood nurse.

One session focuses on matters relating to parents, including:

  • the new unpaid workload of infant care and household work;
  • gendered differences in the losses and gains of parenthood;
  • differences in emotional needs and the potential for adverse reproductive events to have lasting psychological effects on women after the birth of a baby; and
  • developing strategies to assist couples to address these in a non-confrontational manner.

The other session focuses on understanding and managing infant behaviour including:

  • infant temperament, including such as differences in the reactivity, responsivity and regulation of young infants;
  • amount and known and unknown reasons for infant crying;
  • stimulation, over-stimulation and soothing;
  • infant sleep needs and optimal sleep habits;
  • the use of settling strategies to achieve these while supporting breastfeeding; and
  • establishing sustainable routines of daily care: the feed, play, sleep routine.

Program formats can include group discussion, active participation in problem solving and negotiation, skills development and supported practice, short talks and practical demonstrations.