A century of care: celebrating maternal and child health services

A black and white photograph of a midwife holding a newborn next to a patient in a hospital bed.

Boyd Community Hub in Southbank is abuzz with celebrations marking 100 years of maternal and child health services in Victoria.

Genevieve Rawling – a maternal and child health nurse for almost 20 years – said the free services offer support to every new mother in the City of Melbourne, and provide health checks and immunisation for children from newborn babies to preschool age.

‘When I mentor maternal and child health student nurses, I encourage them to actively listen and deeply observe. These are extremely powerful attributes nurses should have,’ Genevieve said.

‘I am honoured to hear the parents’ stories and love seeing that shift of confidence in new mothers.’

Each maternal and child health nurse has particular qualifications, including lactation, immunisation, infant mental health and more.

Some parents may need interpreters and a variety of support groups exist for families from different linguistic backgrounds. Outreach is provided to parents who require extra support.

In an age where overwhelming amounts of medical information can be found, through family, friends and online, Genevieve encourages new parents to trust their instincts.

‘Young women today have such high expectations of themselves. People go into parenthood thinking that they have to be the best,’ Genevieve said.

‘But there is no definition of a “perfect mother”. Mothers try so hard to be great parents they do not realise that they already are.’

Fiona Oliver, first time mum to baby Lucille, was delighted to discover the services available just a stone’s throw away from her home, and particularly enjoys the friendship of her new parents’ group.

‘I really like that you are always welcome to drop in for a little play and that there is also a more secluded space where you can comfortably and quietly feed your baby if need be,’ Fiona said.

‘Members of my parents’ group also meet regularly outside of our allocated playgroup time. It is a lovely opportunity to share information, tips and your experience as a new parent.’

Maternal and child health nurses make more than 827,000 free consultations per year across Victoria, in a partnership between local and state government.

To find out more, visit families.

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