Beneath the excitement of welcoming a new human into the world, many mums struggle with anxiety in pregnancy. Fears about the birth, a lack of family or social support, relationship troubles, even money worries, can all affect mothers’ mental health.
No one knows this better than the architects of the Mater Hospital (Sydney) Pre-admission Midwife Appointment Program, our Team Excellence winners in this year’s HESTA Australian Nursing and Midwifery Awards. “Perinatal anxiety and/or depression affects one in six women,” confirms Mater Antenatal Midwife Coordinator Sarah Tooke. “It’s diagnosable, common and doesn't discriminate.
“Early prevention and detection of these conditions is vital. Our program focuses on a woman’s emotional as well as physical wellbeing, providing holistic multidisciplinary care throughout the pregnancy, the birth of their baby and into the postnatal period.”
Partnering up with the Gidget Foundation, which aims to build awareness of perinatal anxiety and depression, the Mater team offers women a free third trimester appointment with a midwife specially trained to spot its earliest signs.
“This gives women the opportunity to discuss any expectations they may have for the pregnancy, birth and early parenting,” Sarah explains. “We’re aiming to better support them by screening for depression and anxiety and associated risk factors, as well as assisting with concerns or social stresses in their lives. We can then offer referrals, for example to the lactation team, the manager of the birthing unit or the community health centres.
“They also become familiar with the hospital and the midwives who will be providing their care during and after the birth of their baby.”
The team’s $10,000 award grant, generously provided by proud awards sponsor ME - the bank for you - will help the program continue to evolve and support more women.
“We want to provide ongoing training for staff, conduct formal research to self-evaluate and fund a translator to help with linguistically diverse patients,” Sarah says. “It will also help fund postnatal follow ups for patients identified with key risk factors.”