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Mental health support for pregnant women and new mothers

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Pregnant women and new mothers have a more comfortable and private way to share their feelings in Corangamite Shire.

Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Nurses in Corangamite Shire now use iCOPE—a digital tool that helps in the early diagnosis of postnatal depression and anxiety.

The Perinatal period runs from the start of pregnancy to the end of the first year of parenthood.

It is one of the most challenging times in a woman’s life and health issues such as anxiety and depression can start or resurface.

MCH Coordinator Chris Towers said that there were many barriers to women opening up to a health professional about how they were feeling during pregnancy and after having their baby.

“New mums can feel a lot of pressure to talk about what’s going well instead of what’s really challenging for them,” Towers said.

“The reality of having a baby often varies from their expectations and what they have seen in the media and on social media.”

Mothers will receive an SMS from their MCH Nurse before their four-week postnatal appointment.

By following a link the mother answers a series of questions to assess her well-being.

A report is generated for the mother and nurse with what the results mean and where to access help.

“Many of our mothers will already be familiar with the iCOPE tool when they have their baby as both Camperdown and Warrnambool Hospitals are using it too,” Towers said.

She said iCOPE will soon roll out to the rest of Victoria via GPs, obstetricians, hospitals and maternal child health centres through a federally funded program.

“Having consistency in perinatal mental health screening will result in less suffering for women and more prompt access to support and services.”

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Ritchelle is a Content Producer for Healthcare Channel, Australia’s premier resource of information for healthcare.

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