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nib supports new parents during COVID-19

We’ve extended our COVID-19 community support package. Read more.

The months leading up to the birth of a baby can be filled with nervous anxiety for soon-to-be parents, even at the best of times. Spare a thought then for the parents of the 52,000 babies estimated to have been born in Australia since the advent of COVID-19 and the shutdown of many non-essential health services.

The closure of antenatal classes due to COVID-19 restrictions has left many parents including Gold Coast couple, Aaron and Aki Jaeger who recently welcomed their first son, having to navigate the preparations for birth on their own.

“Last week, we welcomed Kai into the world which was really exciting but due to the pandemic, it was certainly a unique experience unlike what we had imagined would happen in normal times,” Mr Jaeger said.

“Our antenatal classes were cancelled and as our families are based interstate and overseas we haven’t been able to introduce him to everyone as proud parents normally would,” he said.

And, it’s not just parents preparing for birth who have been affected by the closures. Parents of newborns, who may be grappling with feeding or sleeping issues, have limited face to face contact with their child health nurses.

In an effort to bridge that gap, health insurer, nib, has teamed up with Nourish Baby to offer members free access to virtual courses giving parents the skills to cope with the pregnancy all the way through to the toddler years.

“We were so lucky to access Nourish Baby through nib just in time to prepare us for Kai’s early arrival and we binge watched all the labour videos and health information so we had some idea of what to expect,” Mr Jaeger said.

“With mother’s groups and other postnatal support options also unavailable due to the pandemic, it’ll be handy for us to be able to jump online and continue to learn more about what’s best during the newborn stage from a source we can trust,” he said.

Nourish Baby’s courses are taught by qualified antenatal and early parenting health professionals and are the only online courses accredited by Childbirth and Parenting Educators of Australia and the Australian Council of Healthcare Standards.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the number of new parents accessing Nourish Baby’s courses has grown tenfold, reflecting the need for reliable alternative sources of information in the absence of traditional health service channels.

“Having a baby can be a life-changing experience and it’s not unusual for new parents to experience a range of emotions, fears and concerns related to this. So it’s important that they have access to reliable and credible information to support them during these early stages,” nib’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Mellissa Naidoo said.

“Aside from the sleeping and feeding difficulties experienced by many parents of newborns, some also grapple with feelings of isolation, uncertainty or feeling overwhelmed and all of these factors may have been exacerbated by COVID-19.

“The social distancing rules have also meant many new parents are isolated from friends and family at a time when they most need their support networks,” she added.

With Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia reporting a 20% increase in calls for help between February and April access to services such as Nourish Baby is even more essential.

The nib program includes access to iCOPE, an emotional health screening tool which can help a member identify whether they are currently experiencing or may be at risk of developing mental health problems during pregnancy or in the year following birth.

“Empowering new parents with the information and tools to support their confidence, mental health and wellbeing as they embark on this new phase of their lives is another way we can support our members during COVID-19,” Dr Naidoo said.

Director of Nourish Baby, Melissa Grant said they are thrilled to be supporting nib members with their antenatal and early parenting education.

“Becoming a parent for the first time is an exciting milestone, however, as with any big change, the adjustment can be overwhelming – particularly during a time of increased uncertainty,” Mrs Grant said.

“Providing parents with access to quality education from the comfort and safety of their own home, helps ease the angst and instils a sense of preparedness and confidence as they navigate through the transition to parenthood,” she added.

Nourish Baby’s courses, which cover all aspects of pregnancy and the first three years of a child’s life, allow lifetime access so parents can learn at their own pace and revisit the content at any time.

Content can be accessed on any device from a desktop to a smartphone and the video content within the Pregnancy Health, Labour and Birth and Feeding courses are available in three alternative languages – Arabic, Mandarin and Vietnamese and with English subtitles for the hearing impaired.

The Nourish Baby partnership complements other support measures nib has already announced to help members stay safe and healthy throughout the pandemic.

Nourish Baby is available for all nib members with Hospital cover as a pilot program. Members are encouraged to contact nib on 13 14 63 or visit nib.com.au for more information and to join.

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