They say there is no job more rewarding than being a parent, but a large group of Far South Coast parents gathered on Thursday morning to talk about those times when having a child can seem far too hard.
One might think that having a newborn by your side (or on you) virtually every minute of the day and night would lead to to craving alone time. But while new mothers might feel extremely connected to their newborn, they often feel extremely disconnected from everyone else.
Because of this the Far South Coast Maternity Advisory Group hosted an R U OK? Day event in Pambula, which was an opportunity for parents and their young ones to come together to learn more and talk openly about mental health issues that can affect new parents.
With antenatal and postnatal depression so common – one in seven women and one in 10 men experience postnatal depression and one in 10 women and one in 20 men experience depression in the antenatal period – it's more important than ever to ask new or expectant parents how they're doing.
Event organiser Therese Smith said she organised the day as a way for local mother’s to get a greater understanding of the mental health issues that people around them could be battling, such as post natal depression.
“I wanted to bring mums and carers together, to try to make sure we have the resources and connections to deal with the times when being a mum can be so tough, isolating and frustrating,” Ms Smith said.
“It is wonderful and rewarding in a way I never thought possible until I had kids, but as many who have been through it and are at a later stage of this journey than me, tell me, it is the hardest job you will ever have.”
Ms Smith emphasised the need for mothers to band together and support each other, especially if they notice someone struggling.
“These days, women don’t necessarily have the same support networks as in previous generations,” Ms Smith told the large crowd.
“We live further away from our female relatives, we work a lot more and we have a social media responsibility to have a perfect looking life when it can be anything but.”
Ms Smith explained the struggles she faced as a new mum with her mother and sister living interstate.
“It wasn’t until I had kids, quite late in life relatively speaking, that I realised how much I needed my mum and my sister and missed them, so I have had to make some good friends here, to get me through those tougher times when you just need to chat to someone face to face.
“That was hard too, as you have to put yourself out there, and hope you can find some like minded souls.”
A number of guest speakers spoke at the morning tea event including local general practitioner, Dr Jacqui Brown.
Dr Brown – whose nine week old baby was lying quietly in her pram – spoke about how depression doesn’t discriminate with her presentation titled, Beyonce R U Ok?
She said that even someone as rich and famous can experience adjustment disorder and depression and explained the treatment options.
Dr Brown also emphasised that taking antidepressant medication is nothing to be ashamed about and is also very safe even for women who are pregnant.
Dr Brown also spoke about how easy it is to brush off the question, R U OK?, by saying that you are fine.
“Instead I want every to ask your friends and family and even yourself, are you REALLY okay?”
Other speakers at the event include two Child Family Health Nurses, Shannon Thompson and Emma McGuinness.
“Depression rates in mothers are still extremely high and while children can seem like a burden for the women, having the children can act as a protection for mothers,” Ms McGuinness said.
She also state that because women prioritise their children and believe they need to be there to look after the kids, they are less likely to commit suicide than men also experiencing depression.
Social worker Brianna Armstead from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services also gave a presentation where she reassured the mothers.
“Nobody is perfect, and the good news is that nobody needs to be, you don’t need to get it right all of the time, all parents make mistakes.”
Ms Smith thanked the sponsons Woolworths Merimbula, Tranquil Beauty, Tarryn Lucas Fitness and Digital Age Lawyers South Coast for helping make the day possible.
For help or information contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, or beyondblue on 1300 224 636.