How holistic pregnancy care promotes infant mental health

Runtime 00:21:34
Released 22/7/22
Emerging Minds Podcast
Emerging Minds Podcast
How holistic pregnancy care promotes infant mental health

Children and young people’s healthy development is directly related to the nature and quality of the parenting they receive. The National Action Plan for the Health of Children and Young People 2020–2030 highlights that effective parenting support improves both immediate and long-term child outcomes, especially during the antenatal and early childhood period. But due to discrimination, psychosocial/language barriers, poor continuity of care and a lack of accessible, affordable, quality health services, many parents find it hard to get the support they need.

In this episode, Vicki Mansfield talks with Dr Lyndal Harborne, an obstetrician and gynecologist. Dr Harborne’s professional and personal experiences of motherhood have led her to become a compassionate advocate for holistic pregnancy care. She has learned that the provision of holistic care throughout pregnancy benefits both parent and infant mental health.

Dr Harborne talks about why it’s important for clinicians to take the time to understand parents’ psychosocial context. She explores how providing parents with choices can enable them to positively navigate pregnancy, birth and the transition to parenting. She shares her insights about post-natal depression, and advocates for talking about the ‘bad stuff’ so parents don’t feel alone and abandoned in their experiences.



In this episode you will learn:

  • the importance of having antenatal care that explores and understands the parent’s ‘bigger picture’ – not just their physical state, but also their emotional and mental health and their relationships with others [08:17]
  • why understanding perinatal vulnerabilities and having a multidisciplinary team is essential to best support the emotional wellbeing of parents [19:20]
  • the benefits of compassionately exploring the pressures parents feel in adjusting to parenting, and how these pressures impact upon parents’ moods and feelings about having children [20:43]
  • the importance of supporting parents after perinatal loss, and how miscarriages, stillbirths, neonatal deaths and other losses can leave parents feeling isolated and alone [24:35]


Further information and resources:

Keeping the infant and toddler in mind (online course)
Healing the Past by Nurturing the Future: Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families (online course)

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