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Helping new mums during COVID

We’ve all had to step up during COVID – some of us more than others. This is how one small not-for-profit in Sydney is doing its bit.

Nadene Alhadeff, CEO. Mum for Mum

What is Mum for Mum?

“You give me strength and seeing me through your eyes is empowering. Just knowing that you are there really has helped me. Knowing that you would lift me up when things get difficult gets me through the rough patches”. 

Mum for Mum is a Sydney-based organisation in its 12th year of operation. It supports 250 families a year from over 60 nationalities – having doubled its outreach since Covid began. Our 170 volunteers, who are mothers themselves, provide emotional support to mothers transitioning to parenthood through weekly home visits in the last trimester of pregnancy and first year of the baby’s life. It has been in a unique position to provide profound and much needed mental health support during the pandemic. 

Having a new baby in the pandemic

“I felt like Sandy’s presence in my life was like being thrown a lifesaver.  I was isolated and in covid lock down with a baby with reflux and nothing going right. Seeing her was like a burst of sunshine and was so appreciated.”

Becoming a parent during Covid has been particularly challenging. Unable to have family support from overseas and often even interstate, has led to greater isolation and exhaustion; increased health concerns for the baby and family, not to mention increased financial and relationship stresses.

Having a well-trained and supervised, empathic and nonjudgmental volunteer visiting regularly ensured that many isolated mothers did not fall through the cracks and were enabled to access the professional supports they needed. 

According to Director of Perinatal Psychiatry at the RHW and Director of St John of God Mother-Baby Unit, Professor Marie Paule Austin, “Mum for Mum provides a unique service that in my 30 years in the field I have seen many organisations strive for, but few able to achieve.”

It’s good for the volunteers as well! 

The mental health rewards have not only been for the recipient families but also for our 170 volunteers who have had the opportunity to find purpose and connection during these challenging times. Mum for Mum’s focus on ongoing fortnightly training and supervision has meant that the volunteers’ have turned a difficult period into one of growth, contribution and connection. 

“My life is much richer since joining Mum for Mum”.

“Entering into a new parent’s life at such a vulnerable time, and watching them grow and evolve into the most incredible mums, is one of the most profound experiences I’ve been exposed to. Trusting me unconditionally with their life’s challenges, is a huge responsibility, and at first it’s really quite intimidating and scary. But I leave them each visit with a new perspective, learning about resilience and strength, and feeling grateful for my support and relationships. For me...It’s not only about what we do for the mums, but what they do for us in return.” Glynne

We at Mum for Mum are passionate about ensuring that no new parent feels alone and unsupported. In restoring calm and joy to parenting and helping isolated parents access the supports they need we are playing our role in ensuring long term outcomes for a thriving and resilient society. 

Find out more about Mum for Mum www.mumformum.org.au

 

Find online resources to help parents in the perinatal period at MumSpace www.mumspace.org.au

 

 

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Dr Jan Orman

Jan is Sydney GP, private psychological medicine practitioner in Sydney’s inner west and a GP educator for Black Dog Institute.

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