I’ve worked in homelessness and housing, foster care, adoption in the UK and public health in a large hospital in Melbourne.
As a social worker a large part of my role was to research, resource and link/refer clients/patients on to relevant supports. I actually really enjoyed this part of my role. I liked the networking with other agencies, learning about what they can offer and seeing my client/patient getting the support they need. It wasn’t always easy, but I had the resources and knowledge to navigate what was out there to help others.
When I was trying to conceive our firstborn, I didn’t hesitate in seeking the specialist support that we needed to make it happen. It was easy enough to get a recommendation for an obstetrician and also a fertility specialist. Also I got referrals for psychology and alternative medicine.
So it came with great surprise to me that I was finding it difficult to get the support I needed once my long waited for baby had arrived.
It started with feeding support. It was difficult to get the hospital LC to come and see us when I could hardly get him to latch and I was getting very damaged nipples. We did finally get her review, but went home with no ongoing follow up. Of course we got home and still had major issues. Maternal child health seemed hit or miss with how supportive they were. Thankfully I did get a good one who did refer me to the LC as part of the council I was in. She got me linked to an osteopath and also another GP/LC who specialised in tongue ties. But sadly we continued to have feeding issues for 4 months. It was something I constantly was trying to get support with. Always having to do the research myself.
We had to also navigate Centrelink which was a nightmare! Enough said! No wonder the patients and their families requested social work help in the hospital so often for Centrelink help!
I had no idea who to turn to, to understand normal infant sleep and feeding. I got mixed opinions with every professional I came across.
There was information overload where ever I turned. A lot of individual differences of opinions, even between professionals in the same field. I found it hard to trust my own inner intuition. I was a newborn mother after all.
Even though my job had been to link and navigate supports for others, once I became a mama, even I was surprised with how hard it was to get the support I needed. It was one of the main catalysts for me leaving a hospital job and working towards a role where I supported mamas to navigate the system and get the help they need.
So if you are a new mama and your head feels like exploding because there is so much information to process to get some help, you are not alone. Our system is not set up for mamas to harness their own inner knowing and to trust their instincts. It is overwhelming and hard to find the support you need!
But there is support out there! The first step to take is to ask someone to help you with the mental load of navigating it. Get someone to help with the research. You may be able to get a family member or friend to take that on. But if not invest in a professional like myself who can support you in a multifaceted way.