For mums struggling to cope with the changes in their life, or mums who need a (non-judgemental) ear, the Mum for Mum program can be a lifeline. Here’s how the NCJWA program matches mums with volunteers to help hem through that first tricky year.
When Sabine* had her first baby Amie* in her native France, she had lots of support. Her mum was very hands-on and she had many family members and friends around. After Amie’s first birthday, Sabine and her husband Jean-Paul* moved to Australia and she quickly fell pregnant with her second child. When Jacques* was born in Sydney it was a very different experience to her first child. She felt isolated and nervous to be alone with the baby, and unlike the first time, she did not have the support and hands-on assistance from her mother who was too ill to travel to Australia to help out.
Not only was she missing her mother terribly, but Jean Paul works very long hours, often not coming home before 8pm. She has a few friends in Sydney, but their children are older and they all work during the day. This means that Sabine spends most of her daytime hours on her own with the baby and feels isolated and alone.
When Jacques was 8 weeks old, Sabine told the midwife at the Early Childhood Centre that she felt like she was not coping with the baby. The long hours she spent alone, the lack of sleep and the fact that she was struggling to breastfeed was taking its toll. She felt guilty that she was neglecting her daughter, depressed because she was so isolated and alone and she felt like the situation was putting pressure on her marriage.
Fortunately for Sabine, her midwife contacted the coordinator of the Mum for Mum NCJWA program and Sabine was quickly matched with Jane – a volunteer for the Mum for Mum NCJWA Program. Jane’s role was to support Sabine for the first 12 months of Jacques’ life by visiting her regularly and lending a (non-judgmental) ear. She did not give advice as such, but through active listening and conversation, she was able to provide an outlet for Sabine that she had been missing. Her weekly visits included taking Jacques for a walk, or to the local coffee shop, and their discussions greatly assisted Sabine to calm down and enjoy being a mother to her beautiful children. As a result of these visits, Jane was able to assist Sabine reach out to a supported playgroup and meet other migrant mothers in similar situations to hers. She has also gained the confidence to attend English classes and has now secured a part time job.
Mum for Mum NCJWA is a home based, confidential, free and non-denominational program created to assist mothers of newborns and pregnant women who may be finding motherhood isolating and challenging. Most new mums feel isolated, overwhelmed and challenged during the early weeks and months of motherhood. These are ordinary feelings and emotions to experience – even for the most supported of mums. For those mums who don’t have family or friends around, these early weeks can be terribly lonely and triggering, and the Mum for Mum NCJWA program has been created to provide that support.
Mum for Mum NCJWA has also been created to support those women who struggle with anxiety or depression. Research has shown that having a sympathetic and non-judgmental ear to talk to can help new mothers find their feet in what can be an extremely challenging time.
Mum for Mum NCJWA has been operating in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney for 8 years and was introduced to the North Shore in January 2017. If you or someone you know is pregnant or has a baby under 12 months old and is feeling isolated, lonely, depressed or anxious, please contact the Mum for Mum NCJWA organisation and they might be able to assist you.
*names have been changed to protect the identities of those involved.