By Anglican Family Care | Posted: Thursday April 7, 2022
We talked to new mum Marie who told us that, prior to her pregnancy, she was experiencing some anxiety and depression which she had kept to herself. Within a week of her son being born, she was feeling sleep deprived and overwhelmed as a first time Mum.
“Mason was born during the 2020 lockdown, while it was wonderful having my husband around, I still felt isolated, it was such a relief when my Mum could finally visit the three of us.”
Thankfully Marie had opened up about how she was feeling to another community worker in Oamaru, who referred her to Anglican Family Care’s Family Start home visiting programme, in North Otago.
“My baby was a month old at the time when I first met my Family Start Whānau Worker and Team Leader Sue. I was struggling with breastfeeding, feeling overwhelmed and sleep-deprived.”
Immediately upon meeting the Family Start Workers, Marie realised that hiding her feelings away wasn’t helping her situation and told us just having someone come into her home that she felt comfortable with, was life-changing.
“Marie was providing functional care to her son, but it was evident she was not really enjoying being a Mum and was aware what the impact of this could have on his emotional/social development. With the support of Family Start, Marie developed some strategies to manage her anxiety, accessed counselling and strengthened the attachment between herself and her son. She now celebrates his every milestone and enjoys her parenting role, whilst her son is thriving in her care,” Sue Dundass: Family Start – Team Leader.
Post-natal depression can be debilitating and if left untreated, can affect a healthy attachment between a mother and her baby. In addition to this, a mother can lose interest in activities they used to enjoy, have mood swings and struggle to sleep.
Through the support of FINDEX Oamaru who provided funding specifically so clients can access counselling, Marie was referred to a local counsellor. Counselling is offered as a short-term therapeutic intervention to assist wellbeing for mother’s experiencing depression.
Marie describes how the Family Start team were invaluable in other areas too, and assisted with planning out her weeks, and explaining what milestones were coming up with her son.
“Just talking about your week and being provided with reassurance, like not feeling guilty when taking a nap during the day when Mason was sleeping. Essentially, normalising my feelings, and giving me confidence in myself made all the difference. They encouraged me to do little things like going for a walk and doing activities around town at other baby groups. Organising activities and structure were key for me.”
Anglican Family Care were also fortunate to have the opportunity to give Mason swimming lessons. This was supported by Waitaki District Council who donated 10 places for Family Start whānau to have free weekly swimming lessons. Marie and Mason attend with four to six other babies, every week for 30-minute lessons. “Mason loves the water and it’s a great opportunity for me to connect with other Mums too”, reflects Marie.
“It was a privilege to be able to share Marie’s parenting journey with her, offer support and guidance and watch her grow in confidence as her mental well-being improved and her parenting capacity grew,” said Sue.
Finally, we asked Marie what advice she had for other Mums going through the same experience. “I want other [new] Mums to know that there is support out there for you. Don’t be afraid to open up and talk about your feelings, it’s so important. Opening up was a big part of my recovery, connecting with other people and working through things. Anxiety/depression isn’t talked about enough and if my experience can help others out, that would be great.”