Baby massage expert Kartyani Nair (left) and new Bonding with Baby counsellor Karen Potter.
Baby massage expert Kartyani Nair (left) and new Bonding with Baby counsellor Karen Potter.

Free baby services help families bond

It’s not uncommon for women to experience some sort of post-natal depression when their baby is born, and often it’s hard to reach out and ask for help.

Which is why the Lismore Family Support Network has changed the structure of it’s Bonding with Baby program so that specialised parent/infant counsellor Karen Potter can go to women in their own homes.

Traditionally, Bonding with Baby has been delivered as a group course, but often women can feel shy or uncomfortable about discussing their personal issues with others. Karen said she hoped any parents who are experiencing problems before or after birth would take advantage of this new free home visiting service.

“It means that parents who are feeling alone or having difficulty getting around can access the service, and it’s more private with one-on-one counselling,” she said. “Fronting up to see a counsellor when you’re having difficulties can be confronting and often you don’t want anyone else in the community to know your business. New mums are more vulnerable – they want to do well and be happy so it can even be hard to acknowledge there’s a problem. It’s not uncommon for women to struggle after birth and feel alone, isolated, uncertain, anxious or down even when they have a partner, so just having someone to talk to can alleviate it.”

Karen said she is there to help with any problems that a parent is having, or to discuss problems between parents and their infant, as well as issues arising between the parents themselves.

“It’s really for any parent that’s experiencing anxiety or discontent, feeling depressed or disconnected from your child, or just feeling that being a parent is not like you imagined,” Karen said. “Maybe the baby isn’t feeding or settling properly, maybe there’s relationship issues...

“I’m here to help with whatever problem might be going on.”

As well as the new free home visiting service, the Lismore Family Support Network is also going to run a free five-week baby massage course in early May for new parents. The course will be run by Kartyani Nair, who trained at the International Association of Infant Massage and believes strongly in the power of touch to help parents and children connect.

“Anthropologist Ashley Montagu said, ‘Human beings cannot survive without touch - it’s a basic behavioural need’ and I really believe that,” Kartyani said. “My mission is to help as many parents as possible learn baby massage and enjoy the lifelong benefits that come from early bonding. Not only does massage enhance the bonding process between baby and carer but you can also learn strokes to relieve things like colic pain or tummy upsets. Touch is the first sense to emerge in the womb and the mother and child bond through that movement in the womb and the actual process of labour. That shouldn’t just stop after birth - it needs to continue while the other senses begin to emerge.”

Bookings are essential for both free services. Phone the Lismore Family Support Network on 6621 2489.

The Bonding with Baby program is funded by the Australian Government through the Communities for Children Initiative. Lismore Communities for Children is managed locally by the YWCA NSW.


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