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Redefining Postpartum Support: A Mother’s Journey Towards Empowerment

Writing by Freya Bennett

When my eldest daughter was born six and a half years ago, I found myself plunged into the deep end of parenthood. Throughout pregnancy, the focus understandably revolves around maternal health and preparing for childbirth. Yet, once the baby arrives, there’s a distinct lack of guidance on navigating the postpartum period and caring for this new, tiny human. I vividly recall the apprehension I felt as I prepared to leave the hospital after my c section; the daunting reality of caring for my newborn loomed large.

From mastering breastfeeding to understanding sleep patterns and attending to her sensory needs, I was overwhelmed by a sense of inadequacy. My coping mechanism, initially, was to keep busy and avoid prolonged periods at home, where the anxiety seemed most acute. Despite reaching out to support hotlines, the reassurance they offered only temporarily assuaged my concerns, leaving me to grapple with the challenges alone.

This experience highlighted a significant societal oversight: the lack of comprehensive support for new mothers and primary caregivers. The expectation to seamlessly transition into parenthood without guidance or adequate resources is unrealistic, given the pivotal role mothers and primary caregivers play in nurturing future generations. Recognising this, I made deliberate choices in preparing for my second daughter’s arrival six years later.

I relocated closer to family; my partner and I prioritised flexible work and I set myself up as best I could physically and mentally. I acknowledge this privilege isn’t accessible to everyone. Many new mothers lack nearby family assistance or partners with flexible work arrangements, exacerbating the challenges they face. It’s imperative that we prioritise support structures for new parents, equipping them with the tools and encouragement needed to navigate this transformative journey with confidence.

One such beacon of hope is Maternal Infant Wellbeing Melbourne (MIWM), spearheaded by Dr. Amber Hart.

Dr. Hart’s vision of a nurturing environment tailored to new mothers’ needs, encompassing breastfeeding support, sleep guidance, and overall wellbeing, resonates deeply with my own struggles. I was lucky enough to experience the MIWM’s Day Stay program and it reignited my passion for advocating for comprehensive postpartum support.

The realisation that many aspects of parenthood doesn’t necessarily come naturally was a shock to me after my firstborn. Breastfeeding, for instance, is a learned skill that can be immensely challenging without proper guidance. Similarly, sleep patterns vary widely among infants, necessitating tailored approaches rather than one-size-fits-all solutions. Dr. Hart’s initiative provides a sanctuary for learning, healing, and communal support, setting a precedent for future endeavours in this field.

I fervently hope to witness the expansion of MIWM’s model, ensuring accessibility to women from diverse backgrounds. Every new mother deserves the opportunity to embark on this journey with confidence and resilience, supported by a community dedicated to their wellbeing and empowerment.

I had a chat with Dr. Hart on why she started MIWM.

What inspired you to start MIWM? 

I’ve worked in women’s and children’s health for more than 15years and the same themes just kept popping up. Inconsistent information, lack of access to specialist services and poor maternal self-efficacy. COVID really highlighted the lack of women’s health and postnatal support and we saw a huge increase in presentations related to mental health, unsettled babies, sleep disruption and feeding difficulties.

I felt that I could no longer sit back and practise ‘patch-work’ medicine, chipping away in the brief time I had with families, but feeling like I was facing an uphill battle.

It was with this in mind, I created Maternal and Infant Wellbeing Melbourne. I have gathered exceptional practitioners from all of the areas that parents are seeking support, and have created a service that provides consistent, coordinated, evidence based care from a central location in Melbourne. Our beautiful, calm, custom- built space brings a sense of ease and belonging the second people walk through the door.

We are seeing the most incredible results, families are thriving, women are regaining their voice and I am so excited to see the daily growth and progress in every aspect of this undertaking.

Why is it important to support mums in this way? 

Because mums are EVERYTHING!

For too long the needs of mothers and women have been a secondary consideration and we can do so much better.

Women thrive when they are nurtured in the post-partum period. When women thrive, children thrive. By supporting families with this service we are working towards improving breastfeeding rates, reducing perinatal mental health presentations, reducing the burden of pain and chronic disease in the health system. The health and wellbeing of women and children will always be our priority.

What gap does MIWM fill?

So many!

We are a safe space for families to land in an overwhelming time of life. We provide the consistency families are seeking, and do it in a professional, evidence-based and co-ordinated way which helps to remove the uncertainly that so many families face.

We provide TIMELY support for these very time-sensitive issues, and we nurture the mother at a time when the focus very heavily shifts to her infant.

Our innovative Day Stay Experience gives families the time and space to address their needs, but also gives us as clinicians the opportunity to see more than just a brief snapshot of their day. This is an incredibly powerful tool to be able to support families in a way that no other postnatal service can.

It really is a game-changer.

What’s your favourite thing about the day stay experience?

 There is so much goodness that comes out of the Day Stay Experience, but I think my favourite thing is seeing the confidence and self-efficacy of mothers’ blossom as the day goes on. It’s amazing being able to give a mother back her power.

What do you wish every new parent knew about breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding looks different to every family and with timely access to the right support, we can make sure that everyone’s needs are met and that everyone thrives.

Keep an eye on our social media for an exciting Mother’s Day giveaway!



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