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Supporting women at their most vulnerable time

08 November 2021 Blog
Mental health Perinatal mental health
St John of God Burwood Hospital Social Worker Sarah Kroon, who works the majority of her time in the hospital’s Mother and Baby Unit, explains why she enjoys being able to support women during the postnatal period.

The pregnancy and post-partum period is a very vulnerable time for women in particular, not only in terms of their mental health but also their psychosocial needs.

During this time, women often have an increased reliance on their partners and their families and in instances where they were may be unhealthy relationships this can put women at risk.

We do see an increased risk of domestic violence at this time, not only physical but emotional abuse and women can feel trapped.

There is a lack of support and there can be some real issues that need to be addressed.

I enjoy working with women, one-on-one, and with their partner to identify challenges and link them with the support and services available to address these.

Getting women access to things like housing is very difficult, so I find it incredibly rewarding when I am able to help facilitate the link to support and advocate for them.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on women, particularly those whose families are not in Australia. Normally these women would have had family come and stay with them for an extended period of time to support them.

The pandemic has meant that hasn’t been possible, and in some cases, some women have been separated from their partners who are stuck abroad.

This has made is so much harder for many women who don’t have that informal support around them from family and friends, in addition to the traditional supports from doctors and communities groups largely only accessible online.

The main thing I want women, who are experiencing mental health concerns during pregnancy or after giving birth, to know is that support is available. 

Many of the women we care for talk about the unrealistic expectations they feel about parenthood and motherhood and that they feel there is something wrong with them or they are a bad parent when they don’t meet those expectations.

Everyone’s experiences are so different, so you really can’t judge one experience from another. And remember, what you see on an Instagram or Facebook post is only one part of the story, there may be many issues behind the scenes that people have chosen not to share.

St John of God Burwood Hospital Social Worker Sarah Kroon
Sarah Kroon - Social Worker

Sarah Kroon is a social worker at St John of God Burwood Hospital.

She has worked at the hospital for three years and supports women and families who come into the hospital’s Mother and Baby Unit after experiencing perinatal mental health concerns such as anxiety, depression and psychosis.