North East Victoria
Baby to Toddler
Tastes of our Region
Baby to Toddler : Baby to Toddler 2009
The Border Mail Baby to Toddler 2009 41 A NEWBORN baby not only brings excitement to a household, but also a new and challenging experience. There are constant questions and uncer- tainty from parents as they face the trials and tribulations of being a new mum or dad. That’s where the maternal child health nurse service is literally a god-send. The service supports parents and care- givers to meet the demands of early parenthood. Run by Wodonga Council, the service provides families with support, child development and health information, advice on breastfeeding, nutrition and family planning — to name a few. Maternal and Child Health Nurse coordi- nator, Marcia Armstrong, said with many mothers decreasing their length of stay in hospital, the service was particularly useful. “The service is voluntary for parents and their children, it is not compulsory,’’ she said. “We like to see parents and children at least 10 times under school age.’’ She said a maternal child health nurse would initially contact new parents to estab- lish whether they would like to take part in the free service. “If they do we initially undertake a home visit,’’ she said. “A lot of new parents particularly in the first 12 months need a lot of support. “They have bought their baby home from hospital and they want information about sleep and settling techniques, how they are going with breastfeeding, and whether their babies are putting on weight. “Or down the track they might have ques- tions about when they should start solids.’’ She said often first time mums might have early feeding problems and need additional help. But she said it was not only first time parents that could benefit from utilising the service. Ms Armstrong said ma- ternal child health nurses were also concerned about monitoring the health of new mums. She said after the initial home visit, parents could then visit the centres dotted around the city for regular consultations. She said the aim of maternal and child health centres were to provide: • Information, support and advice regarding parenting, child health, devel- opment and learning, child behaviour, maternal health and wellbeing, child safety, immunisation, breastfeeding and nutrition and family planning. • Schedules of consultations at key ages and stages of child development when parents are encouraged to attend the service with their child. • Provide links to specialist services for families that might need extra help. • Provide parenting groups to provide health information and an opportunity to meet other parents in the local area. • A more intensive level of support for vulnerable children and families. Ms Armstrong said parents were encour- aged to visit when their baby was aged 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 8 weeks, 4 months, 6-8 months, 12 months, 18 months, 2 years and 31⁄2 years. The meetings provide the perfect time for parents to ask questions and gain informa- tion about their child’s development. “Over the time, parents establish a real rapport with their nurse,’’ she said. Young mums, or those deemed to need more help would receive additional hours of support from their maternal child health nurse. “When the child is older, we can help provide information about childcare or advice before they go off to pre-school, it really is a great service to be involved with. There is also a maternal and child health line that provides a 24 hour telephone service staffed by qualified nurses. The line provides over the phone informa- tion, advice and referrals for families. “If someone calls the after hours line, we are informed of that and we can follow them up the next day to see how they are going.’’ The number is 132 229. RENEE Callanan believes there must be something about the Murray River and childbirth. The Lavington mother (pictured) has expe- rienced two quick labours with her children Tia, 2 and Jed, 10 months, and on both oc- casions she has been down by the river just hours before they were born. The energetic mother says on both occa- sions she believed she was in the early stages of labour but true to her relaxed persona kept on going with the day’s plans. This included lunch by the river with family and friends on both occasions. Mrs Callanan went into early labour with both children, Tia born 2 weeks early and Jed, one week. “My waters with Tia actually broke when I was down at the river and one of my friends who is a midwife was there so that was good,’’ she said. “I still stayed down there for a few hours as the labour wasn’t that intense at that stage and then I went to the hospital a little later. A four hour labour ensued with Tia born at 6 pounds eight. Mrs Callanan totally expected she would have a similar labour experience with Jed. And she was not far off the mark, with another quick labour and river experience. “I was actually on a walk when my waters broke with Jed and I was supposed to meet family at the river for lunch,’’ she said. “My contractions were about 10 minutes apart so I decided to still go and they weren’t that bad.’’ While enjoying lunch with family, her labour intensified and husband Trevor took her to Wodonga Hospital. Three hours later Jed was born weighing six pounds 15. “I was pretty cruisy all along and although it was very painful you get such a good result in the end, it is all worth it,’’ she said. “I guess you just have to stay focused and stay relaxed as much as you can throughout the whole thing. “You have to go with it, do what your body wants, and go with the contractions. “It is hard but it is just so rewarding.” Rive r- born! Free help and advice Maternal and child health nurse Wendy McNally checks 4-week-old baby Taylor while her mum Danielle Bourke looks on.