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The nine milestones you will achieve through our Mother and Baby Unit

11 August 2021

Perinatal mental health Mental health
Seeking help if you are struggling with your emotional wellbeing as a mum can be confronting. Clinical Nurse Consultant Carmen Xidis explains how the St John of God Burwood Hospital Mother and Baby Unit can help.

Seeking help for your own emotional wellbeing as a new mum can be tough as it means admitting that you are struggling.

However, it is important to know that caring for your emotional wellbeing will not only help you but will also have significant positive effects on your baby and partner.

What to expect

We provide a supportive environment so that, as a mother, you feel empowered to care for your baby while you are recovering and caring for your mental health. 

We reduce many of your everyday responsibilities so you can focus on starting your journey towards recovery, and have the opportunity to address the physical, emotional and social transitions associated with becoming parents.

We understand every family is different which is reflected in our multifaceted treatment. This includes information and support to begin addressing the biological, psychological, family, social, and spiritual barriers to wellness, in addition to enhancing your parent-craft skills.

We care for you and your family

At our Mother and Baby Unit, we strive to develop your infant’s connection with you by encouraging and supporting you and your partner to continue your parenting role.  

Interactions between infant and their parent are vitally important to your baby’s cognitive, emotional and physical wellbeing.

Research shows that partners are at risk of experiencing depression and anxiety with approximately 10 per cent  of fathers experiencing mental health issues in the first year following the birth of their baby.

A couples group and a partner’s group are offered in the evenings on alternate weeks as part of our program. Throughout your stay with us, the team will provide your partner and/or support network with opportunities to remain involved and informed of your treatment process and progress.

The steps you will take in our program

Throughout your stay with us, you have regular and ongoing assessment to ensure your treatment plan is tailored to meet your needs.  You are supported by a multidisciplinary team including an assigned member of the nursing team as your primary nurse.  

Remember, this is the start of your journey to recovery but you do not have to travel it alone.  An important aspect of your recovery is learning to be kind to yourself and to be patient with yourself – easier said than done!  

We support you in this by taking a progressive approach to skills development, whereby you and your care team address the issues on a given level and then move onto the next level.

It is not necessary for the issues to be completely resolved before commencing the next level, as the goal is to improve your overall functioning. It is also expected your wellness will continue to improve as you develop the skills over time.

The nine milestones

The following milestones or steps are a guide as to what you should expect on admission and during your stay with us. We are able to assist you in achieving these by providing you and your partner with the opportunity to participate in the development of your treatment and plans for transitioning back to home.

  1. Start the perinatal therapy program 
  2. Set goals to work towards achieving emotional and physical wellbeing
  3. Develop an individualised care plan with the multidisciplinary team
  4. Gain a deeper understanding of your personal symptoms and the impact these have on your wellbeing
  5. Obtain skills to better manage emotions as they are experienced in the present
  6. Obtain skills to regulate your emotions and foster healthier relationships 
  7. Obtain skills to foster a healthy secure attachment with your baby
  8. Establish community support and safety
  9. Complete a mental health recovery and discharge plan

Continuing care

On top of our inpatient program, we also offer treatment in our Counselling and Therapy Centre for mums living in the community.

We offer two outpatient groups specifically for mothers:

  • Postnatal Depression group
  • Circle of Security group

These groups help you develop the mental health strength and skills you need to manage your role as a mother, while continuing to care for your child at home.

Carmen Xidis - Clinical Nurse Consultant at St John of God Burwood Hospital
Carmen Xidis - Clinical Nurse Consultant

Carmen has worked with St John of God Health Care for the better part of 25 years in various roles. Carmen completed a Graduate Diploma in Perinatal Infant Mental Health in 2018. Her current position is Clinical Nurse Consultant of the Mother Baby Unit. 

This position involves working closely with our Perinatal Research team on new and exciting projects in the field, including developing and establishing a clinical support network for integrated psycho-social assessment and development of referral and care pathways working collaboratively with maternity services.