Becoming a mum and juggling the demands of parenthood isn't always smooth sailing. But with websites like MumSpace, help is always on hand.
For Kristal, mother of 3 from Ipswich regional Queensland, things "kind of went pear shaped" after the birth of her first child. "I felt very down and alone," says Kristal. "I just cried a lot, I wouldn't go out, I would not socialise. I was pretty much a hermit and felt like a failure."
For most women, the transition to parenthood can be stressful, while for some the symptoms of anxiety and depression can make it difficult to function.
The MumSpace website (www.mumspace.com.au) was developed as an easy access point for a range of resources for the emotional support of all new and expectant mums. Designed by leading experts in maternal and perinatal health, it has information about common experiences with parenthood, tools for coping strategies and treatment programs to assist those experiencing anxiety or depression.
The website brings together trusted support programs and resources from Australia's expert perinatal mental health organisations; led by the Parent-Infant Research Institute (PIRI) including partners, Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA), Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Jean Hailes for Women's Health and Monash University. MumSpace is funded by the Australian Government and can also be found on its new digital mental health gateway Head to Health.
"Most new and expectant parents will experience increased stresses and anxiety. However, some develop more pronounced anxiety or mood swings which affect their daily life and functioning," says Dr Alan Gemmill, Senior Research Fellow & Deputy Director of Research, PIRI. "In all cases, early intervention is so important for the health of both the mother and the child, and that's where MumSpace can help."
Melbourne mother of 3, Laura, says MumSpace is really good and something that was very much needed. Laura describes herself as highly anxious. "I always thought I had perinatal depression, but looking back I realised I also had prenatal anxiety."
Laura believes MumSpace can be a great first port of call for mums who are feeling the pressure but might find the idea of making a phone call too scary. After being diagnosed with PND and treated, Laura is now doing much better and for the first time understands what's it's like to enjoy motherhood. "I'm not afraid now to get help because of what I went through previously."
MumSpace provides support for the emotional health of new mums connecting mums quickly with the level of support they need. MumSpace currently offers:
Features include a self-assessment page as well as links to established resources such as What Were We Thinking! and BabySteps to assist all new parents with skills to manage the demands of parenthood.
Also available is the newly developed MindMum mobile app, providing effective strategies to help lift moods and give confidence to new mums. MindMum can be used at any time or any place on mobile devices.
MumMoodBooster is a pioneering online treatment for antenatal depression, postnatal depression and anxiety. Based on best practice psychological treatment, both the antenatal and postnatal programs are designed to deliver the benefits of face-to-face cognitive-behavioural treatment without needing to leave your home.
"Perinatal anxiety and depression can also affect new and expectant dads. We urge new parents feeling at all anxious and needing some extra support to visit www.MumSpace.com.au," says Professor Jeannette Milgrom, Director, Parent Infant Research Institute (PIRI). MumSpace is suitable for mums-to-be, new mums, their partners and as a resource that healthcare professionals can refer their clients to.
"As a secure online tool, MumSpace is accessible to all Australians and can be accessed 24/7 from home or when out and about," says Professor Milgrom.
The Perinatal Depression e-Consortium (PDeC) is a group of leading Australian perinatal maternal health experts led by the Parent-Infant Research Institute (PIRI) and includes Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA), Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Jean Hailes for Women's Health and Monash University.
For more information on MumSpace, please contact Prof Jeannette Milgrom or Dr Alan Gemmill, PIRI on (03) 9496 4009 or 9496 4496 or by emailing [email protected].