Support for new parents is just a click away

Photo: Thinkstock

Photo: Thinkstock

New parents and their partners have a new online resource to help them feel less isolated and alone.

Covering topics from IVF to work-life balance in early parenthood and everything in between, and illustrated by film and audio clips from interviews with parents from varied backgrounds and family types, the website aims to inform and support expecting and new parents.

The site has been developed by a team of researchers from the School of Social Sciences, based on the ‘Emotional Experiences of Early Parenthood in Australian Families’ project.

Leading researcher, Associate Professor Renata Kokanovic, said the research she and her team (Kate Johnston-Ataata, Nicholas Hill and Caroline Hart) had undertaken to develop the website found a lack of support was a common experience for new parents.

“We found that many people, especially those who had moved away from family and friends or migrated to Australia felt they weren’t getting the support they needed,” Associate Professor Kokanovic said.

“Health statistics tell us that up to a third of women and men in Australia are thought to experience some emotional distress while expecting a baby or during early parenthood.

“Feeling isolated is a common experience for new parents, as is finding that their experiences of pregnancy and early parenthood are different from their expectations. Many people we spoke described this as distressing, particularly around the degree of change in their lives, and the impact of parenthood on their relationships.

“The website is designed to be a tool to help new parents to survive the transition to parenthood and the early years when they are at their most vulnerable.”

The website provides information and videos from parents talking about their experiences of conceiving, IVF, miscarriage, surrogacy, adoption, pregnancy, labour and birth, life in early parenthood, antenatal and postnatal depression, the impact of becoming a parent on relationships, balancing parenthood with paid work. It also includes advice to expecting and new parents, and messages for health professionals.

Associate Professor Kokanovic said despite considerable research on emotional distress of early parenthood, most research did not consider the broader social context or the diverse family and parenting arrangements found in contemporary Australia.

“This website is unique in that it features a really diverse range of parents and families; single parents, same-sex parents, blended and step-families, families with adopted children, parents through surrogacy, and parents from different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds,” Associate Professor Kokanovic said.

“Despite the challenges, most people we interviewed found the experience of becoming a parent rewarding and did not regret it. It allowed us to better understand the emotional rollercoaster all new parents, no matter what their situation, go through.”

The website is a partnership between Monash University, Healthdirect Australia, and DIPEx Australia.

The online resource is housed on Healthdirect Australia’s website. As well as supporting expecting and new parents and their family members and friends, it also aims to educate health and allied health providers working with new parents, and inform policy development.

For more information please contact Glynis Smalley, Monash Media & Communications + 61 3 9903 4843 or 0408 027 848.