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Help is at hand for first-time Canberra mums

Belladonna Took

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.” ~ Rajneesh (Indian mystic, guru and spiritual teacher)

Giving birth is one of the most significant moments in a woman’s life. I gave birth to my first child—a boy—this year, and from that moment on (at 12.04pm on Wednesday 4 June to be precise!), it was as though time had begun anew. Nothing else existed before him. Nothing else mattered but him. Being a first-time mum is such an exhilarating, joyous, incredible and unforgettable experience—but, let’s face it, it can also be downright scary, nerve-wracking, frustrating, monotonous, incredibly lonely, utterly exhausting, and absolutely messy with the days and nights going by in a blur of wet nappies, vomit, and poo. As a first-time mum, there are many times when I feel like I have absolutely NO IDEA what I’m doing!

Fortunately here in Canberra, help is at hand with a wide range of fantastic services that support first-time mums (and dads), and second time/third time etc mums too! From breastfeeding support groups, baby swimming lessons and equipment hire services to paediatric first aid training sessions, playgroups, free ‘drop in’ clinics and organisations that support families with premature or sick babies…There’s a service out there that is sure to meet your precious baby’s needs as well as your own. We’ve wrapped up the best of them in a two-part series so be sure to bookmark this little baby as it’s bound to come in handy.

Maternal and Child Health Nursing Service (M.A.C.H)

M.A.C.H is an ACT government run service that provides free support, information and health advice by registered nurses with additional specialist qualifications in maternal, child and family health. MACH offers a home visit to all families with newborns. You can also make an appointment to visit a MACH nurse or use their ‘drop in’ service for information and advice at one of the MACH clinics across Canberra. There are also baby weighing machines at each MACH clinic as well as new parent groups, and Early Days which are special group information sessions that address the feeding and settling concerns of mothers with infants under three months of age. For more information visit MACH on the ACT Health website or phone the Community Health Intake on (02) 6207 9977 between 8.00am and 5.00pm weekdays.

Queen Elizabeth II Family Centre (QEII)

The QEII Family Centre is a postnatal and early childhood primary health service based in Curtin for families with children up to three years of age. A referral is required for admission into the QEII’s residential program. The program runs for 5 days/4 nights and provides families with the opportunity to work closely with staff on issues including unsettled babies, complex lactation and feeding issues, children with special needs, mood disorders and child behaviour difficulties. For more information visit the Canberra Mothercraft Society website.

Lactation Support Service

Calvary Bruce Private Hospital is committed to supporting women in their breast feeding journey, particularly as there is an increasing demand for lactation services in the community with women often experiencing a lengthy wait for appointments to get support. The Lactation Support Service offers an alternate service to all women in the ACT with easy, self referral. Mums have access to experienced and qualified lactation consultants, up to one hour private appointments with follows ups available, and all in a warm, supportive and caring environment. For all enquiries phone (02) 6201 6207 or to make an appointment phone (02) 6201 6620.

Canberra Birth Services

Canberra Birth Services is located in Kambah and offers a wide range of services from pregnancy, birth and beyond. These include parenting classes, family day care, house cleaning, art/craft/play sessions for children 0-5 years old, babysitting, nanny services, post-caesarean assistance, doula birth support, dance classes (ballet, jazz, tap and bollywood), music and movement classes, and language classes (Hindi and Japanese). Note that all of these services attract a fee. To find out more [email protected]visit their Facebook page here.

Australian Breastfeeding Association Canberra Support Groups (ABA)

The ABA is Australia’s largest breastfeeding and information support service, supporting and encouraging women who want to breastfeed or provide breastmilk for their babies. The association helps more than 80, 000 mothers every year and has a free 24-hour breastfeeding helpline – 1800 686 268. The ABA has support groups all over Canberra for mothers to make new friends, chat with other mothers who have ‘been there’ and connect with trained breastfeeding volunteers. However, you do need to be a member of the ABA to join a local group. Visit their website for more information.

Playgroups ACT

Playgroups are a terrific way for children to have fun, make new friends and develop new skills. It’s also a great way for first-time mums to meet other mums and carers, and share ideas and experiences. Playgroups are located throughout the ACT and can be structured or informal with some groups designed to meet specific needs, including linguists of languages other than English and children with disabilities. For more information or to find a playgroup near you, visit Playgroups Australia.

Giggle and Wiggle

Giggle and Wiggle is a free program run by ACT Libraries for children 0-2 years and their parents. Giggle and Wiggle is all about learning language through play, using interactive games, rhymes, songs and stories. Children can learn about alphabet recognition, shapes, colours and numbers. Sessions are 30-minutes and run each week during school terms. To Giggle and wiggle with your children, visit Library ACT for more information.

KIDSAFE ACT

KIDSAFE ACT is a charity organisation dedicated to preventing unintentional injuries to children. Their services include free child restraint checks, child restraint installations, baby safety capsule and infant carrier hire. They also sell child restraints, safety products and nursery furniture with advice on child safety information from qualified staff also available. Kidsafe ACT is located in Pearce but they also have mobile services in Dickson and Gungahlin. Phone (02) 6290 2244 or visit Kidsafe ACT for more information.

Baby Restraint Fitters

Baby Restraint Fitters will professionally install your own child restraint and also have a baby equipment hire service where you can hire a wide range of equipment including baby carriers, full size cots, booster seats, change tables, prams and strollers, play pens, monitors, high chairs, stair gates, play pens, and breast pumps. Missing something on your baby checklist? Phone (02) 6296 6550 or email [email protected] for more information.

Post & Ante Natal Depression Support and Information Inc (PANDSI)

Being a new mum can be challenging but there are those who find the experience just that little bit more challenging than the rest of us. One in seven women who experience pregnancy, childbirth and new parenthood will experience some level of post or ante natal depression. PANDSI plays a vital role in providing support to Canberra parents affected by post or ante natal depression. Services include a weekly daytime support group, one on one support and a telephone support program. For more information, contact PANDSI on (02) 6288 1936 or visit their website.

Belladonna Took

Belladonna Took is a former Sydney girl, community development worker and primary school teacher who arrived in Canberra in 2010 to begin her newly married life and her dream job: writing. When she’s suffering writers’ block, she has plenty of things to keep her busy such as books, high teas, Downton Abbey, friends, family, the husband, fur babies, and coffee. Belladonna loves Canberra and has even begun to identify herself as a Canberran! More about the Author

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