Pure Self Care: Looking After Parents
8 min read | 20 September 2020
8 min read | 25 July 2021
Becoming a parent for the first time is a journey full of raw emotion, excitement, deep love, and fulfillment, however, during this beautiful journey, there will be sleepless nights, long days, forgetful moments, stressful hours, and times where you don’t quite know what you’re doing. This is normal.
It takes time to adjust to your new role as parents and to learn the needs of your baby and each other, as you all transition into a new lifestyle together. But, without the right support, relationships can strain and depression and anxiety can sometimes begin to take over.
For most new parents, having their first baby is the most special time of their lives. Holding, touching, smelling, cuddling, and caring for their new baby is what they have dreamt of since finding out their little baby was coming into this world. Some couples may also find themselves with a deeper connection with each other, watching their loved one transition into their new role as Mum or Dad. While this is the case for some, others may experience feelings of regret and defeat, feeling as though they have lost their identity, career, social life, or financial independence.
These feelings can be followed by a deep sense of guilt for not loving their new role as a parent, as they feel like it has taken over their life. It’s important to look out for the signs and symptoms in your partner, friend, sibling, or loved one for a decline in mental health after having a baby and to reach out and start a conversation. Some of the signs and symptoms include
Feelings of worthlessness
Struggling with normal day-to-day activities
Lack of connection with baby
Outbursts of anger
Changes within the relationship
Reaching out and getting help as soon as possible will assist with a quicker recovery.
There are a number of online and in-person support services that are offered to women and families during the transition to parenthood. It’s important to connect with these services and to reach out for help when you need it. All new parents need support at some point in their journey. These are some of the support services offered within Australia, ranging from online, over the phone, and in-person support.
PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia) – supporting women, men and families across Australia dealing with depression and anxiety during pregnancy or within the first year of parenthood. – 1300 726 306
Beyond Blue - supports women and families throughout pregnancy and parenthood through online chats, a helpline, online forums, online information including mental health advice for new and expecting dads. – 1300 22 4636
Parent line – free counseling and support services for parents – 1300 30 1300
Raising Children Network – parenting website full of advice, articles, videos, and information for parents. Search for in-person support services in your local area on this website.
MensLine Australia – Free help, support, referrals and counseling for men struggling with mental health. – 1300 78 99 78
AustPrem – the added and unexpected stress of having a premature baby can mean the need for more support. Austprem offers support for parents with prem babies.
Breastfeeding hotline – Australia Breastfeeding Association offers a phone consultation support service to assist new mums with breastfeeding struggles. – 1800 686 268
Being a young parent can sometimes come with added stresses and obstacles to overcome and the support that is often required for young parents is more specialised. There are a number of services that can help young parents aged 13 – 25 to help build independence and confidence in their new parenting role. In most circumstances, if you feel you need extra support, a social worker from your local hospital will be available to you during pregnancy and postpartum. They are able to provide you and your family added support, education, and a bit of help to navigate this stage of life.
Youth Beyond Blue – offering mental health support for youth that are struggling - 1300 22 4636
Kids/parents helpline – offers mental health support for youth and parents – 1800 551 800 or 1300 301 300
Young Pregnant & Parenting Network - this organisation is made of a multi-disciplinary team of social workers, health care professionals, educators, and other mothers. They offer added support around parenting as well as housing if young parents are having difficulties.
Raising Children Network – this website offers a guide to local services for young parents within their area. Some of the services that are offered within Australia include: Red Cross – young parents’ program (NSW), Raise foundation – Bump program (NSW), Youth Support Network (NSW), Young parents’ program (QLD youth services), Youth Support and Advocacy Program (VIC) & Young and pregnant parenting (VIC)
Local Early Childhood Center - before you leave the hospital after the birth of your baby, your midwife will discuss with you, where your local Early Childhood Center is. These are a great resource and often have drop-in sessions for lactation consultants, vaccinations as well as young parent or mothers groups.
Showing signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety after having a baby.
Struggling with relationship changes after having a baby or is experiencing family or domestic violence.
Struggling with parenting, financial independence, homelessness or family violence as a young parent.
There are so many support services and resources available to help new parents that are struggling with the transition to parenthood. The sooner you get help for yourself or your loved one, the sooner things will start to become easier.
Most importantly if you are struggling with thoughts of worthlessness or suicidal ideations, seek immediate medical assistance, mental health is a serious illness and there are always people that are here to help you.
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