A parent’s love shapes a baby’s mind.
Supporting mothers to understand this connection and nurture secure attachments with their baby is Breda McAlinden’s role.
Through Centacare’s Making Moments program, the Children and Families Worker visits young parents across the City of Playford.
They may be at risk of peri-natal depression or anxiety, and often are experiencing other mental health challenges.
Breda (pictured) works alongside new and expecting mums – and their families – to increase their self-belief, capacity to parent and understanding of what their baby needs, and when.
“Being able to recognise your baby’s cues can be really empowering for a young mum, especially if she is low on confidence and is relatively unsupported,’’ Breda says.
“It stops that spiral downwards that can start if their baby is really unsettled and they’re not getting any sleep.
“A lot of the mums have experienced trauma and sadness in their own childhood. If they don’t have another template for parenting, it can be really difficult to know how to respond to and soothe their baby which is how trust develops in that first year of life.’’
Responsive, sensitive parenting gives a baby’s brain the message that the world is a safe place
The Making Moments program made 321 visits to 21 families in 2015-16.
Referrals come through hospitals, women’s and children’s and other services. Some clients also self-refer in search of support. This can include: help with transport to childcare, school and appointments; contingency planning for crisis and unexpected events; linking to mental health services; and, building community connections to alleviate social isolation.
Breda highlights the program’s focus on parenting education – delivered primarily through visual tools – and the small victories she sees families achieving with each home visit.
“We meet some amazing and strong women,’’ she says.
“They come a long way. Some will tell you they don’t know how they would have got through really tough times in life without our support, so that speaks for itself.’’
*Making Moment is being highlighted as part of National Child Protection Week. For more information about the program, phone Centacare 82522311.