Strathbogie Shire Council

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Navigating first-time parenting with peers

New mums Angie Glew and Madi Hall know the power of peer support and first-time parent sessions.

Despite having professional backgrounds working with babies, Angie and Madi agree the lived experience of first-time parenting brings a substantial learning curve for all parents.

Like countless new parents before them, Angie and Madi are among the current generation navigating its new life phase with the support of the First Time Parent program run by Strathbogie Shire Maternal and Child Health Service.

“I am a midwife and lactation consultant, so I knew a lot about birthing and breastfeeding, but I didn’t know a lot about mothering,” Madi, who joined the April 2021 parent group with nine-week-old son Walter, said.

“It’s been really beneficial having the social interaction with other mums in the area and sharing stories. We’ve bonded over different stories and it’s been reassuring.”

Madi said it was equally reassuring for new parents to practise outings with a baby in the supportive space of other new parents.

Not only does the group share parenting anecdotes and practical tips, the formal sessions convened by maternal and child health nurses also provide guest speakers.

Madi, from Avenel, said she had enjoyed the varied presentations including a speech pathologist on how to communicate with babies to help language development.

Angie, of Euroa, joined the same group when daughter Adelyn was seven weeks old.

Angie and Adelyn particularly enjoyed the baby massage session in mid-May at the Euroa Maternal Child Health Centre in Binney St.

“Adelyn was so relaxed afterwards. I have since used the techniques we learned in that session to help calm her down,” Angie said.

“I’ve been a childhood educator since 2012, but becoming a parent is a whole different experience.

“Meeting other new mums has been a great support system, so you don’t feel like you are going through it by yourself.”

Maternal child health nurses Jane Davey and Leoni Eagles said new groups were offered where and when demand required.

“We run them when we have enough first-time parents to form a group and all first-time parents are invited to join,” Jane said.

“We hold them in different centres, really where the demand is.”

The eight sessions are sleep and settling; baby massage; speech development; looking after yourself; library introduction and the importance of reading to babies and children; signs of illness in your baby; introduction to family foods; and partners night.

Jane and Leoni encourage the groups to continue meeting after the formal group finishes.

“Some of the groups I have run are still friends 20-plus years on; life-long friendships are often made,” Jane said.

As the April 2021 cohort’s formal group sessions near completion, the foundation appears set for ongoing friendship and support.

“We have created a Facebook message group, so it will be easy to keep contact and getting together,” Madi said.

For more information about the Strathbogie Shire Maternal and Child Health Service, visit www.strathbogie.vic.gov.au/residents/families-a-children/maternal-child-health

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