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Occupational therapy services—you and your baby

Adjusting to parenthood


After the birth of a baby, many women embark on the creation of a new balance to their usual activities, adjusting to new roles and expectations. This change in lifestyle affects work, household chores, relaxation, sleep, and relationships. Some women miss paid work, work-based friends and the 'paid worker' identity. Others simply feel they are 'on a steep learning curve'. It can be difficult getting the basics done, let alone taking care of oneself. It is not uncommon to wonder "Am I the only one finding this hard?"

Fathers and partners

You and your baby

Life may have seemed full already and now you need to incorporate another little person and a lot more responsibility. Your mind may be working overtime with questions:

'How can I support my partner in what she is going through?'

'What does this mean for our relationship?'

'How can I maintain my work performance with the decreased sleep?'

'Will there ever be time for fishing, golf or computer gaming again?'

An occupational therapist draws on a range of skills to assist you make a smooth transition into parenthood.

Adjusting to baby

Establishing routines of feeding and sleeping, and helping your baby learn to settle and enjoy some awake time, are important tasks for parents during the first few months. During this time learning to read your baby's cues and behaviours will help you to respond sensitively to his or her needs. As your baby grows and masters new skills over the year ahead, you will learn how to best support him or her on the journey towards independence in activities such as feeding and play.

Providing opportunities for your baby to play encourages all areas of his or her development: learning to move, use his/her hands, and explore his/her surroundings; developing sensory abilities and thinking skills; learning about him/herself and about how to engage socially with others. Positive sensitive caregiving as well as playful interactions help you and your baby get to know each other and to establish a strong bond. This special bond helps your baby feel secure and loved, as well as enhancing his/her brain development.

Occupational therapists working with new parents and their babies aim to help you develop skills and practical strategies for a positive transition to parenthood and to support your baby's development.

If you are interested in advice or assistance from an occupational therapist, the following options are available through the Mater Health and Wellness Service:

Self care for parents: learn to:

  • Identify your needs and ways to meet these —'refill your emotional energy tank'.
  • Simplify tasks and routines to make room for what is important to you.
  • Make the most of available energy.
  • Base life decisions on your own values.
  • Develop helpful thinking strategies.
  • Relax and enjoy your baby.
  • Sleep without a struggle.

Baby care: learn to:

  • Strengthen your bond with your baby—enjoy interactive time together during play or other activities such as infant massage, and feel confident as a parent in providing his/her everyday cares.
  • Help your baby with settling and establishing daily routines of sleeping, feeding and time for play.
  • Understand how play is important in promoting your baby's development.
  • Choose and use age appropriate toys and baby care equipment.

Accessing occupational therapy services

You and your baby

If you are an inpatient, you may request a referral to occupational therapy by speaking to your obstetrician or midwife.

If your baby is admitted to the Neonatal Critical Care Unit, you may request a referral to a paediatric occupational therapist by speaking to your neonatologist, paediatrician or nursing staff.

In most cases there is no direct charge to you for this service while you or your baby are inpatients. It is usually covered by your health fund as part of your hospital stay.

After discharge from hospital, occupational therapy is available through our Mater Health and Wellness service.

For further information or to make an appointment through the Mater Health and Wellness Service, please phone 07 3163 6000. There will be a fee for this service. This fee may be refundable depending on your private health insurance provider and cover.

Mater Health and Wellness staff are recognised providers with private health funds and HIC. Rebates for services are available where applicable.

Mater Health and Wellness Clinic is located on level 1, Duncbome Building, Raymond Terrace (entrance to the left of building through boom gates), South Brisbane. For more information, or to make an appointment please phone 07 3163 6000 or visit http://wellness.mater.org.au.

Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.
Mater Doc Num: PI-CLN-410008
Last modified 09/8/2017.
Consumers were consulted in the development of this patient information.
Last consumer engagement date: 19/7/2014
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