You may never have heard of Jan Macvarish – I hadn’t until I came across an article of hers published on The Conversation titled “How ‘neuroparenting’ is sapping the joy out of family life’. The article does not paint a positive picture of neuroscience-informed policy and pokes fun at the use of “baby massage” as an intervention to support early childhood development. Read More
It is difficult enough being a new parent without the stress of the dad being in prison. Mothers are coping alone at home – with the help of family and friends if lucky. In prison, dads are not able to do anything to help, have no chance of bonding with their new baby, and no chance to see important milestones…With up to 435 men at Swansea [a medium-security] prison there are quite a number of young men whose babies are born while they are inside.
offers online courses specifically for people working to support
early parent-baby relationships and infant mental health development.
Each year, our educators work with an estimated 35,000 families in Australia to provide the First Touch Program and support parent-infant interactions. Since July 2016 we’ve started collecting data and feedback from some of those families about the impact the program has had on them. Over the past three months, this data has revealed a worrying trend, with 40% of parents completing the survey tool so far stating that they are battling feelings of significant isolation and loneliness. Without support or opportunities to find and build connections, isolation can wreak havoc with a new parent’s mental health.
Perhaps also worrying is that 60% of parents completing the First Touch Program with our educators say that the program was “far more useful” than other supports that they have received as a new parent. While that is positive feedback for our educators and our program as a whole, it does continue to highlight the gaps in the government and social care systems that are available to all families.
The data collection is in early days yest, so these trends may yet change as more data is gathered.
It’s hard to believe this photo of Rachelle and baby Rocco almost never happened.
For most of us, soon after the birth of a baby, we discover that photos can be misleading. Parenthood is, we discover, not a nappy commercial. We discover the day-to-day reality is more messy,blurry and relentless than anyone ever described. We join a secret club with other parents and go around shaking our heads,making cynical comments to each other about ‘those’ photos of clean babies, gazing lovingly at mothers who look like they have just awoken from 8 hours of sleep and been dressed by a team of Vogue magazine stylists.
When there is a perfect moment – a special cuddle, a loving look, a smile, a sleeping baby – we whip out the camera phone to gather precious, precious evidence that there were, after all, at least some glimpses of connection, buried in the chaos and confusion of parenthood.
But, for Rachelle, her family’s hope of stealing a moment of perfection here and there, came crashing down at her 20 week scan.
Here is her story. Read More
My baby cried. A lot.
Soon after her birth, I discovered the biggest parenting in-joke: it’s the one (often accompanied with a roll of the eyes) about the wealth of advice we receive – lists, books, comments – which is usually contradictory and often unhelpful. In fact, one of my child health nurses would share the joke with me – I think in an attempt to help me relax and remember that wonderful platitude that “all babies are different” and I was just doomed to have a baby who cried. Read More
When I first learned about using infant massage as an intervention to support vulnerable families, I was completely unaware that (unlike midwifery, child health nursing and social work) infant massage is an unregulated occupation here in Australia. So, it was only pure luck that I happened to enrol in a course that met my needs and that had some evidence behind it. Read More
Even under the best of circumstances, crying, sleep difficulties and simply working out how to care for a new baby can cause distress and confusion for many new parents. For Louise, after the birth of her second child Ryan, these challenges became overwhelming through the fog of postnatal depression.
While seeking treatment and support from her GP, Louise was referred to the First Touch Program. Louise credits the program, which centres on building parent-baby relationships using cue-based baby massage, as being one of the crucial parts of her recovery. And she’s not the only one: a growing body of research and evaluation studies suggest that, under certain conditions, cue-based infant massage has the potential to have a long-term impact on the health and well-being of babies, as well as their parents.
An Australian children’s charity is today warning health workers and volunteers to be wary of organisations targeting them to participate in “outreach” holidays to developing communities, in order to help with daily care – and particularly massage – of children and babies in orphanages. Read More