Preparing for Motherhood - The Emotional Journey - Squarespace

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Preparing for Motherhood - The Emotional Journey - Squarespace
The Emotional Journey

Preparing for
Postpartum Plan
Preparing for Motherhood - The Emotional Journey - Squarespace
  on your pregnancy
We are so happy for you!

Motherhood can be the most challenging, exhausting,
and demanding experience, but it can also be the most
empowering, loving and rewarding time too. Whether
this is your first or fourth pēpi, we have designed this
Postpartum Plan to support you through your
Matrescence journey.

——This plan is a guide to help prepare               welcome to the beautiful, wondrous world
you and to give you the opportunity to               of parenthood!
consider things you may not have otherwise.
                                                     The information in this workbook is not
It is fluid, flexible and not fixed. You can edit,
                                                     medical advice, it is for educational purposes
change and alter anything you write down
                                                     only. It does not substitute or replace seeking
at any time. Having this plan does not restrict
you, it provides you with a starting point from      professional help from professionals, such
which you can adapt as your circumstances            as your GP or Midwife. We are so privileged
change. The aim is to help you feel more             to support you on your journey.
confident, by establishing your own unique
personal strategies that will support you, as
you prepare for the next chapter of your life.

Expect the unexpected
What you expect from parenthood and what
actually happens can be very different. Just
because you have made this plan doesn’t
mean your baby will slot right into it!

Be flexible
It is not a plan of tasks to be achieved, it is
simply ideas and reminders of things that            Christina Bond & Samantha Bond
may help and support you. There are many             Psychologist & Teacher
variables that are outside of our control;           Matrescence New Zealand

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Preparing for Motherhood - The Emotional Journey - Squarespace
Table of
                                 Introductory Information                                  04
                                 Introduction to Matrescence                               05
                                 Preparing for Possible Challenges                         06

                           01    Support                                                   08
                                 Your Circle of Support                                    09
                                 My Chief Communications Officer                             11
                                 Meeting the Family                                         12

                           02    Nutrition & Feeding                                        13
                                 Meals for Mum & Support Person                            14
                                 Feeding Baby                                              16
                                 Your Go-to People                                         18

                           03    Sleep                                                     19
                                 Infant Sleep                                              20
                                 Parental Sleep                                            22

                           04    Well-being                                                23
                                 Self-care & Prioritising Mum’s Well-being & Needs         24
                                 Activities to Support your Mental & Physical Well-being   26
                                 Physical Well-being: Pelvic Health                        27
                                 Psychological Well-being & Perinatal Distress             28
                                 Birth Trauma                                              29
                                 Intrusive Thoughts                                        30
                                 Self-care Plan                                             31
                                 Dads/Partners                                             32
                                 Tips for Dads/Partners                                    33

                           05    Relationship with Partner                                 34
                                 Staying Connected                                         35
                                 Responsibilities                                          37
                                 Finances and Going Back to Work                           38
                                 Communicating about Challenges & Problem Solving          39
                                 Communication with my Partner                             40

                           06    Resources & Organisations                                 41
                                 Resources                                                 42
                                 Collection of Phrases                                     43

                           07    About us                                                  44
                                 More information – Antenatal Workshops                    45
                                 More information – Matrescence NZ                         46

© Matrescence New Zealand 2022                                                                     03
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Within our antenatal workshops we discuss;
key messages, a range of individualised strategies
to support you with emotional regulation and
introduce you to matrescence.

——Key messages focused on                     ——The key strategies we discuss
the fourth trimester:                         in our workshops include:

– It is hard, but only for a limited time     When something isn’t working, change
                                              your thinking or change your behaviour.
– There is support if you reach out
– There is no one right way, learn together   Change your thinking:
– Care for yourself so you can care for      Change the way you think to change the
   your baby                                  way you feel
– Changing the way you think will change     1. Identify your thought
   the way you feel
                                              2. Evaluate is it helpful or harmful?
                                              3. Adopt an alternative helpful thought

                                              Change your behaviour:
                                              Do something different to change the way
                                              you feel
                                              1. Identify what’s not working
                                              2. Consider different options you could use
                                              3. Try a different strategy

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  to Matrescence

——The transition to motherhood is
one of the most psychologically, physically
and emotionally confronting experiences            “Matrescence is a
a mother will go through, and yet our
society and culture gives very little
                                                    developmental passage
acknowledgement of this.                            where a woman transitions
Matrescence is the developmental phase              through pre-conception,
(very similar to adolescence) that women
experience throughout their motherhood
                                                    pregnancy and birth,
journey. Understanding matrescence raises           surrogacy or adoption,
awareness of why this transition can be so
challenging, it normalises our experiences as       to the postnatal period
mothers and validates the range of conflicting      and beyond. The exact
emotions that may arise.
“Matrescence is the becoming of a mother.
                                                    length of matrescence is
I believe matrescence is more biologically          individual, recurs with
significant than adolescence. It’s a pretty big
call but if we have a look at the brain changes,    each child, and may
there’s more neurogenesis occurring during          arguably last a lifetime!
pregnancy than there is during an entire
adolescent time.” Dr Oscar Serrallach               The scope of the changes
We aim to reduce the prevalence of perinatal        encompass multiple
mental health conditions such as postpartum
depression, anxiety, and birth trauma. Our          domains: bio-psycho-
approach is mother-centred; instead of              social-political-spiritual-
focusing on nappy changing (although an
essential skill), our focus is on facilitating      and can be likened to the
a positive and empowering experience for
mothers and their partners - before and after
                                                    developmental push of
birth. We share evidence-based strategies           adolescence”
to help mothers (or parents) through their
postpartum experience.                              Aurélie Athan, Ph.D.

“From brain changes in pregnancy,
hormonal events, shifting identity, changing
relationships and entering the social realm        The aim of our workshops is to prepare
and rules of motherhood, when a woman              women with insight for this new wave
becomes a mother she experiences intense           of experiences. We provide education to
changes during a very condensed window             support an understanding of the changes
of time. The experience of matrescence is          and challenges of motherhood alongside
marked by both expansion and contraction,          evidence based strategies to empower
loss and gain.” Nikki McCahon                      women holistically.

© Matrescence New Zealand 2022                                                                   05
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                                                                                                      Table of Contents

  Possible Challenges

——What do you expect will be your                      Within our antenatal workshops we focus
biggest challenges or worries? The birth,              on two key strategies: change the way you
feeding, sleep deprivation, asking for and             think about the situation or; make a change
accepting help? And why.                               in your behaviour.
                                                       You may also like to include a key message(s)
Over the next few weeks, for each challenge/
                                                       that you feel is relevant. The more specific
worry you have identified, choose a specific
                                                       and detailed you can be, the more valuable
strategy (how) for overcoming this challenge/
                                                       and useful your strategy is likely to be.

        Challenge/worry                   Feel successful at                   Change your behaviour
                                    Change the way I think to change         Do something different to change
                                             the way I feel                           the way I feel

Example: I am worried that         Example: I need to put less pressure     Example: There is support if I reach
breastfeeding won’t go to plan     on myself to nail breastfeeding          out – I know that there are a lot of
as I really want to have success   straight away – millions of species      external resources and my mum
with this.                         do it every day and overthinking it is   can support me too. I am going to
                                   making me more anxious. If, for some     enrol for a breastfeeding course
                                   unforeseen reason it doesn’t work        before baby is born and then ask
                                   for us we are lucky enough in this       my midwife for a recommended
                                   country to have safe alternatives, my    lactation consultant just in case
                                   baby and I will be fine.                 I need additional support after
                                                                            baby is here.

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Preparing for
                                                                                                Table of Contents

  Possible Challenges

——What do you expect will be your                    Within our antenatal workshops we focus
biggest challenges or worries? Sleep                 on two key strategies: change the way you
deprivation, not feeling confident, not              think about the situation or; make a change
knowing how to support my partner?                   in your behaviour.
And why.
                                                     You may also like to include a key message(s)
                                                     that you feel is relevant. The more specific
Over the next few weeks, for each challenge/
                                                     and detailed you can be, the more valuable/
worry you have identified choose a specific
                                                     useful your strategy will be.
strategy (how) for overcoming this challenge/

          Challenge/worry            Change your thinking                  Change your behaviour
                                  Change the way I think to change       Do something different to change
                                           the way I feel                         the way I feel

Example: I am worried I won’t    Example: I need to take the pressure   Example: I can discuss my concerns
know how best to care for my     off myself to always have a solution   with my partner, remind them I
partner and my baby.             to every problem. I am learning, and   have had little to no experience with
                                 it is okay not to know what to do.     babies and directly ask my partner
                                                                        what they need from me. If in doubt
                                                                        I can always ask a friend who is also a
                                                                        parent and look at trusted websites.

© Matrescence New Zealand 2022                                                                                07
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Social support is a key protective
factor for psychological and emotional
well-being postpartum (Knaak, 2009).                   “If there is ever a time
Good social support is about quality, not               in your life you are going
quantity. You may have one or two amazing
super-star helpers that spend a lot of time
                                                        to need help, the fourth
supporting you, or you may have a wide                  trimester is it. Ask for
range of different support people that help
you now and again, such as someone who                  help and accept help.”
drops off meals, another who helps care for
                                                        Matrescence NZ
baby, and someone else who you to talk to
for emotional support. If you don’t feel you
have a strong support network, now is the
time to strengthen it.

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                      Your Circle of Support

The heart below represents you and each               In the next circle would be other people that
circle is a layer of support. In each tier write      you can call on (but maybe not at 3am!). In the
names of people that you can call on for              larger circle you may have more names, they
support once your baby arrives.                       might be work friends or family that you see
                                                      less often but they are still wanting to support
In the smallest circle, closest to you, you
                                                      you in some way.
may have one other person – your partner,
or maybe your mum or best friend as well?
Someone you can call at 3am and you know
they’ll be there.

© Matrescence New Zealand 2022                                                                          09
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Below: For each tier of support, name some         Examples: Make frozen meals, take dogs
specific tasks that you would be able to ask       for a walk, bring coffee and laughs, help
each person for help with. Tier 1 may have         with washing, cook dinner, bath baby, go
less names, but more tasks, and vice versa         for a walk with me, take baby for a walk,
for Tier 3.                                        tidy my kitchen, collect groceries, help
                                                   me ask for professional support.

            Tier 1                             Tier 2                          Tier 3
       Name & Tasks                      Name & Tasks                      Name & Tasks

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                     My Chief
                Communications Officer

Identify one person that you know will have the skills
and confidence to speak on your behalf. This person
is a crucial member of your support network. It might
be your partner, but it doesn’t need to be.

——This person will be in charge of              Example: They may organise your baby
asking others for help on your behalf,          shower and ask friends to purchase specific
as well as asking others for space on your      gifts that you need (we recommend frozen
behalf if needed. This limits the amount        meals!). You may ask them to send a group
of people that you need to liaise with,         message to your close friends announcing
can help avoid difficult conversations,         the arrival of your baby. They may let friends
and be a productive use of resources.           know that they can visit between 10-12 on
                                                Wednesday and that your dogs and washing
                                                pile are in desperate need of attention!

My Chief Communications Officer: 

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                  Meeting the Family

Have a discussion with your partner and write down
what your plans are for who will first meet your baby,
and some guidelines that you may have.

Example: Who will be invited to the hospital?      feel supported, in which case having people
Which family can visit at home first? How will     around all the time might be valuable to you.
you manage visitors and sleep time? Will you       Or perhaps you feel most at ease when you
ask them only to come between a certain time       have time to yourself to spend alone with
or on a certain day? How long can they visit       your baby and your family.
for? Can they take photos and share them           There is no right or wrong way. It is your right
online? What if they are unwell?                   to choose who can and can’t come, when and
Consider whether visitors energise or deplete      for how long, and you’re allowed to change
                                                   your mind as well!
you. For some couples, having lots of friends
and family coming and going makes them             Our thoughts on initial visitors:

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                            Nutrition & Feeding

Research shows that eating nutritious,
easy to digest food supports not only
your physical recovery but your mental                “The only way to obtain
well-being and mood (Yang et al, 2021).
                                                       energy on a physical level
When we think of making food for
someone who is unwell, we often think
                                                       is through what you eat.”
of preparing something like a lovely
                                                       Dr Libby Weaver
healing bowl of Chicken Soup. Although
new mothers are not unwell, they are
healing from nine months of creating
new life and giving birth (or whichever
way the baby arrives into the world),
and should be nutritionally supported
in a similar way. Warm, nourishing, well
cooked food that is easy to digest helps
take the pressure off the digestive system
that may be sluggish after giving birth.
By planning and preparing nutritious
food for postpartum you will be more
likely to eat well during this important
time of healing (instead of trying to
survive on biscuits and toast). This will
have a positive impact on the whole family.

We recommend reading
The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of
Nourishing the New Mother by Heng Ou
The Energy Guide: A step-by-step plan
to finding the energy you need to flourish
by Dr Libby Weaver
Both have great, easy to understand
nutritional information to help empower
you to make educated decisions around
food and offer nourishing recipes.

© Matrescence New Zealand 2022                                                           13
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                      Meals for Mum
                     & Support Person

Have a discussion with your partner and write
down who will be responsible for meals and
keeping mum nourished.

What you eat can impact your mood,                 Example: Dave will do all cooking for the first
your milk supply, your physical recovery           2 weeks. Sarah will do our groceries online
and your sleep. It is therefore so important       and have them delivered. Once Dave is back
to have easily accessible nutritious food,         at work, Sarah’s Mum will do some meals for
that you actually enjoy eating.                    both Sarah and Dave, otherwise they will use
                                                   the premade frozen meals. We will re-evaluate
Dad/Partner will also benefit from nutritious
                                                   after the first month and decide if we need to
meals as well. Be sure to consider this when
                                                   do another batch of frozen meals. Dave’s cousin
making your plan below.
                                                   can help with this. Dave is allowed to buy his
                                                   lunch for his first week back at work (haha).

   What meals and snacks                 Who can you ask               What are you going to
   are easy and nutritious?              to cook for you?              premake and freeze?
 Include some you both like.                                               How much?

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                                  Meals for Mum
                                 & Support Person
Meal ideas that freeze well:
Vegetable soup, shepherd’s pie and hearty stew made
with vegetables and beans/lentils or your choice of meat
Snack Ideas:
Raw food balls, nuts, hard boiled eggs, lactation (oat)
cookies, porridge with berries

Lactation (Oat) Cookies                     Write down your feeding plan
2 ¼ cups fine rolled oats
½ cup brown sugar
1-2 tablespoons brewers yeast
2 tablespoons lsa or ground flax seeds
100g butter or coconut oil, melted
1 egg

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                                Feeding Baby

Have a discussion with your partner and write down how you hope
to feed and nourish your baby. Discuss a ‘back up plan’ so that
you are prepared with a secondary option. We highly recommend
having a discussion around your plan and options with your LMC.

                       Plan A                                                   Plan B

Example: Mum plans on exclusively breastfeeding for      Example: Mum plans on breastfeeding but also
at least the first 6 months                              introducing a bottle so that Dad/Partner can feed
                                                         the baby too.

Note down where you can find breastfeeding support, both before and after birth.

      Free Breastfeeding                       Support Groups                          Professional
           Support                             (Local or online)                     Support Options

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                                 Feeding Baby

Breastmilk is organic, natural and the optimum nutrition
tailored specifically to your newborn’s needs. Breastfeeding
is nature’s way of continuing the symbiotic relationship
between you and your baby.

——Before birth your body has                      available free of charge in all Canterbury
nurtured and grown your baby completely           birthing facilities. Their help can continue
independently. After the birth both of you        once you go home.
have to be a little more proactive for baby       To eject your milk your body produces
to thrive. Although breastfeeding is natural,     oxytocin – the predominant hormone in
it doesn’t always come naturally, and this        love and bonding. As your baby feeds this
is okay, you can control how prepared you         hormone soars. It connects you to your baby
are, but not for how clued up your baby is.       and starts your body’s transition back to
Some labour medications affect early feeding      its pre-pregnant state… Expect a few mild
and some babies just need a bit of practice.      cramps as your womb shrinks down in the
Knowing this can help you find a plan that        early days. These intense hormones take you
works if you encounter a few bumps on             on a rollercoaster ride at times. Meeting the
your breastfeeding road.                          little person that you and your partner have
                                                  made is an incredible experience, add in love
Midwives are your first invaluable resource.      hormones and the highs can be euphoric.
Your LMC knows you, your pregnancy and            Add in a few days of reduced sleep and a
health history. This means that she can often     sudden drop in pregnancy hormones and
anticipate any challenges ahead and make          the lows can catch you by surprise.
a plan with you before your baby is even born.
There will almost always be a midwife there       Although there is strong evidence that
                                                  breastfeeding reduces the occurrence
for the first two hours after your birth and
                                                  of postpartum depression there are a lot
they are trained to help support your first
                                                  of things changing when a baby joins the
breastfeed. If you can keep your baby skin
                                                  family. Hormones, feeding, changes in roles
to skin with you for the first hour, position
                                                  and priorities create a lot of change in a short
your baby effectively and latch your baby
                                                  space of time. It is normal to feel challenged
deeply at the breast right from the start,
                                                  by these changes. They pass eventually, and
many common problems are bypassed.
                                                  there is additional support available if you
For trickier challenges or babies with extra      need it. We are not designed to have babies
needs there are Lactation Consultants             without a village of support.

© Matrescence New Zealand 2022                                                                         17
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                    Your Go-to People

For ongoing support it can be good to seek out other
mothers who are experienced at breastfeeding. This
may be your own mum, sisters, cousins, friends and
peer support groups.

——There are community support                     Having these conversations early can help
groups and a multitude of online resources        address any underlying concerns and talk
all designed to help you. It is a good idea       them through whilst you have the time to
to do some research before baby arrives.          hear each other. Good communication helps
The fact that you are reading this means          maintain a strong relationship and family,
that you have already started your                there are no ‘incorrect’ feelings.
                                                  Breastfeeding is universally accepted as the
                                                  optimum nutrition for your baby. There are
It can be good to talk to your partner about
                                                  circumstances, however, where for whatever
breastfeeding before the baby is born. What
                                                  reason it doesn’t work out. Remember that
do they expect? Do they anticipate that they
                                                  feeding your baby and enabling them to thrive
may feel left out? What can you both do to
                                                  is ALWAYS good parenting. This time passes
include them?
                                                  incredibly quickly so treasure every moment
                                                  knowing there is so much ahead to enjoy.

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Sleep is essential for our mental
and physical well-being. Lack of sleep
is a risk factor for perinatal mental                     “Just because we can
health conditions, such as depression
(Iranpour, 2016).
                                                           do it, doesn’t mean we
Prioritising sleep is the key here. Ideally
                                                           should. Others can clean
getting 4+ consecutive hours as often as                   and cook for you, but
possible. To achieve this, rest first.
When you think I’ll just put the dishwasher
                                                           not sleep for you.”
on and I’ll just pick up these toys and I’ll               Matrescence NZ
just start dinner… then baby will just start to
wake as you lie down for your well-needed
rest! You won’t need day naps forever, but
while you are feeding baby at night, catch
up on sleep during the day whenever this
works best for you. It may be going back
to sleep at 9am, having an afternoon nap,
or going to bed early at 7pm.
Yes, the dishes and washing need to be
done eventually, but those are tasks others
can support you with. No-one else can
catch up on your sleep for you. Consider
other ways you can be supported to get
sleep through our sleep activities.

© Matrescence New Zealand 2022                                                              19
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                               Infant Sleep

Hormones                                             Circadian rhythm
Melatonin: is the sleep hormone responsible          A circadian rhythm is our internal body clock
for making us tired and setting our bodies           which cycles over a 24 hour period. This cycle
up so we are ready to fall asleep and stay           is responsible for our wake to sleep balance,
asleep.                                              essential bodily functions and processes
                                                     and contributes to our awareness of day
Serotonin: is the awake hormone and
                                                     and night time.
neurotransmitter associated to your
baby’s sleep cycles.                                 Your baby will develop this circadian rhythm
                                                     around 8 weeks of age and will appear more
Cortisol: is a stress hormone that naturally
                                                     alert and wakeful. During this time they will
lowers in the evening, helping your baby
                                                     also start to produce their own melatonin,
unwind and prepare for their overnight
                                                     having sustained themselves for the previous
                                                     8 weeks off your maternal melatonin.
Sleep cycles
                                                     Awake windows
Baby sleep cycles are around 45min long
                                                     An awake window is the time in which your
during the day. Newborns spend around
                                                     baby is awake from their sleep and feeding,
half of their sleep in REM sleep (rapid eye
                                                     playing, changing and settling to sleep for
movement sleep). They might open and
                                                     their next nap. During the first few months
shut their eyes, smile or smirk and make
                                                     your baby’s awake windows are very small.
little noises whilst sleeping. Around 4
months of age their sleep cycles mature              As they grow and change their awake
and they will wake more fully at the end             windows lengthen, just like their ability
of each 45 minute period.                            to stay full between feeds for longer. Awake
                                                     windows are just a guide, no two babies are
Overnight your little one’s sleep cycles are
                                                     the same. It’s just as important to follow their
2-4 hourly. The most restorative part of their
                                                     tired cues as it is to be aware how long they
night sleep occurs before midnight. Early
                                                     have been awake.
bedtime is a necessity in those early days
as sleep before midnight is worth twice its
weight in gold. From midnight to 7am your
baby’s serotonin levels (awake hormone)
start to rise and their melatonin levels (sleep
hormone) starts to drop, naturally gearing
them up to start the day around 7am.

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                                 Infant Sleep

                                                    feeling anxious or overwhelmed. Your baby
                                                    will need hands on support to calm and
                                                    settle; lots of cuddles, verbal reassurance,
                                                    movement or sucking to trigger
                                                    calming reflexes.

                                                    Fun Facts
                                                    –– Melatonin (the sleep hormone) is only
                                                       produced in darkness!
                                                    –– Serotonin assists in regulating our wake
                                                       to sleep cycle
                                                    –– When your baby becomes overtired,
                                                       their bodies start pumping them full of
                                                       stress hormones which means they fight
                                                       themselves to sleep
Crying and communication
                                                    –– It takes your baby 20 minutes to fall into
Babies cry, but not all tears are for the
                                                       a deep sleep
same reason. Understanding why your
baby cries will help you to learn how they          –– The deepest part of our night sleep happens
are communicating. Crying is a normal                  between 6pm – 12am
part of infant and child development,
                                                    –– Babies typically cry the most between 2 and
and a survival mechanism so that you
                                                       12 weeks of age, with a heightened period
know when to respond to their needs.
                                                       between 8-12 weeks
Babies cry for a number of reasons including:
                                                    –– White noise mimics the sounds your baby
hunger, pain, tiredness, over-stimulation,
                                                       heard in the womb and triggers their
unwellness, discomfort and sometimes for
                                                       calming reflex
no reason at all! Understanding how your
baby is communicating is really important;          –– In the first 6 weeks your baby will
they have different cries which mean                   only be able to stay awake for 45-60min
different things.
                                                    –– Within the first 18 months of life
Mantra crying is when your little one                  your baby will drop from 4+ naps down
grizzles on and off and is rhythmic and non            to just 1 between 7am and 7pm
emotional. This sort of crying appears when
                                                    –– It is common for your little one to
your baby is settling, teething, protesting or
                                                       practice developmental skills between
learning a new skill like rolling. Giving them
some space so as not to over stimulate and
frustrate them will help them settle.               This information has been provided by
Emotional crying is when your baby cries            Internationally Certified Infant and Child
consistently at a high and distressing level.       Sleep Consultant, Amy Wallace – Founder
This occurs when they are in pain, upset,           of Little Dreamers:

© Matrescence New Zealand 2022                                                                          21
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                               Parental Sleep

Have a discussion with your partner and write down how you
hope to manage sleeping arrangements once your baby arrives.

We have divided this into two sections, managing your baby’s sleep, and managing
your own sleep – both are equally important.

              Managing baby’s sleep                                    Managing your own sleep

Example: The baby will sleep in a bassinet in our room.     Example: When am I likely to sleep best during the day
When they outgrow the bassinet, they will move into their   (first thing in the morning, in the afternoon or going to
own room. We are prepared to pay for a sleep consultant     bed really early)? Who can look after baby during this
so that we can learn more about natural sleep rhythms.      time? What will I do when I feel utterly exhausted? (eg.
                                                            call MIL or aunty to babysit, postpone visitors) If dad/
                                                            partner is struggling to sleep do we have a spare bed/
                                                            room available for nights before work? Once feeding is
                                                            established, will we aim to give mum one night off per
                                                            week and dad/partner will use a bottle? Or could Dad/
                                                            partner do one feed before midnight so mum can keep
                                                            sleeping? If Mum wants to do all feeds can dad/partner
                                                            support by picking baby up, changing baby and burping
                                                            baby so mum can stay in bed?

Note down where you can find sleep support, both before and after birth.

           Free Sleep                            Support Groups                            Professional
            Support                              (local or online)                       Support Options

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When we take care of our own physical
and mental well-being, this has benefits
for both ourselves and our baby                        “Do the one thing that
(Satyanarayana, 2011).
                                                        will most refresh you,
As we are all individual, different things
refuel, refresh and energise us. For some
                                                        ready for when baby
it may be a clean house, time with friends              wakes again. Anything
or going for a walk and for others it may be
some time alone, a hot bath or some sleep.              else is a bonus.”
Take time to identify what works best for
                                                        Matrescence NZ
you now, so you are better prepared when
you don’t have as much time nor energy
to think about it in the postpartum period.

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No. 4                                               Table of Contents

          Self-care & Prioritising
         Mum’s Well-being & Needs

It is really important that we take time to care for ourselves. Most of
your energy will be spent caring for your baby, but by having a plan in
place that already identifies exactly what calms, re-energises or simply
makes you happy, will make you more likely to engage in these tasks.
What are some activities or habits that you currently have that make you feel…

               Calm                               Re-energised                                  Happy

Select some habits that you would like to continue. Rank them in terms of how important
they are to you, eg. you may have one habit that is a ‘level 1’, but you may have two habits
that are a ‘level 3’.

      Habit that you aim                   Level of importance (1-3)                 How will you make this
         to continue                             and rationale                      happen? (two examples)

Example: Eat 2 nutritious meals a day   Example: Level 1 – This is really        Example:
(protein, 3 vegies, 1 fruit).           important to me and I want this habit    – Prepare a months’ worth of meals
                                        to start from day 1.                        before baby arrives (and buy a new
                                                                                 – Set aside savings for this $50/week
                                                                                    so we can afford blueberries over

Example: Walking the dogs at            Example: Level 2 – This is something     Example:
the beach.                              I would like to start doing within the   – Ask my mum to watch the baby for
                                        first month, but it is not urgent.          30mins so I can go for a walk with
                                                                                    the dogs.
                                                                                 – Ask my partner to come with me
                                                                                    until I have built up the confidence
                                                                                    to take the dogs and the baby out

Example: Daily yoga.                    Example: Level 3 – Although it           Example:
                                        re‑energises me, I won’t put pressure    – Discuss a set time that suits for
                                        on myself to do it, unless I start to       my partner to watch the baby for
                                        feel stressed and overwhelmed.              10mins so I can practice yoga alone.
                                                                                 – Start by slowly introducing yoga
                                                                                    into my daily routine. Work my
                                                                                    way up to doing yoga each day
                                                                                    progressively over time.

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             Self-care & Prioritising
            Mum’s Well-being & Needs
Select some habits that you would like to continue. Rank them in terms of how important
they are to you, eg. you may have one habit that is a ‘level 1’, but you may have two habits
that are a ‘level 3’.

        Habit that you aim         Level of importance (1-3)        How will you make this
           to continue                   and rationale             happen? (two examples)

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No. 4                                            Table of Contents

      Activities to Support your
     Mental & Physical Well-being

                                                  Mindfulness and Meditation
                                                  Practice mindfulness and meditation
                                                  for at least 5 minutes a day.
                                                  Mindfulness and meditation can help
                                                  reduce anxiety, increase awareness,
                                                  reduce stress, improve concentration
                                                  and enhance emotional regulation
                                                  skills (Patel et al., 2018; Tang et al., 2016).

                                                  Treat yourself the way you would treat
                                                  a friend.
                                                  Be aware of your struggles, acknowledge
                                                  we all experience suffering as a normal part
                                                  of the human condition, and be kind and
Gratitude                                         forgiving towards yourself (Kirsten Nerff, 2010).
Write down 3 things each day you are              Babies don’t need perfect parents, they
grateful for.                                     need connection.

Research tells us practicing gratitude can
improve our sleep, happiness and physical
and mental health (Alspach, 2009).

Go for a short walk each day.
Walking can help to reduce stress, fatigue,
low mood and anxiety and promotes
circulation and blood flow and can be
especially beneficial in outdoor green
spaces. (Barton et al, 2009).

Connect with Others
Talk with mums who have babies
a similar age to you.
Social support is a key protective factor
for our mental well-being. Many mums
tell us one of the key things that supported
them through the fourth trimester was
talking to other mums.

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                           Physical Well-being:
                              Pelvic Health

Lesley Coffey is the owner of Essential Physiotherapy,
offering patients education and treatment plans in
their health and healing goals.

——Her FREE antenatal E-Book is
designed to prepare women for labour
and the postpartum experience through
empowering, evidence-based knowledge.

This 70-page long plan includes information
such as exercising during pregnancy,
recognising the symptoms of pelvic floor
problems, pain-management techniques,
tools to optimise postpartum recovery,
and all the essential details of pelvic
health and labour recovery.
To gain access to this incredible free
resource, please visit Lesley’s website
and register your interest to obtain
a copy or

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No. 4                                         Table of Contents

          Psychological Well-being
            & Perinatal Distress

One in five mothers, and one in ten fathers will meet the criteria
for a perinatal mental health disorder. Many other parents may not
meet the criteria for a clinical diagnosis but may still experience
symptoms of these conditions and perinatal distress.

——Postpartum depression differs                 Some common symptoms of
from the ‘baby blues’ in that it continues      depression and anxiety include:
longer than 2 weeks, and is associated
with more severe symptoms. Anxiety              Depressive Symptoms:
differs from worry when it becomes              –– Depressed mood
excessive and uncontrollable.
                                                –– Excessive crying
                                                –– Loss of interest in things
                                                –– Withdrawing from others
                                                –– Lack of motivation
                                                –– Not feeling connected to your baby
                                                –– Difficulty making decisions
                                                –– Fatigue/Insomnia
                                                –– Thoughts of harming self or baby

                                                Anxiety Symptoms:
                                                –– Persistent worry, anxiety or fear
                                                –– Panic attacks
                                                –– Avoidance of things or places
                                                –– Constant need to check things
                                                –– Restlessness, shaking
                                                –– Irritability

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                                 Birth Trauma

Birth trauma is the subjective experience of
emotional, psychological, and/or physical distress
after childbirth. Approximately one in three
mothers experience birth trauma.

——Things that may contribute to
birth trauma include an operative birth
(meaning requiring intervention such as
assisted vaginal or caesarean section birth),
complications at birth, feeling unsafe, a lack
of control or autonomy, a lack of support and
baby requiring neonatal intensive care.

Not everyone who experiences birth trauma
meets the criteria for post-traumatic stress
disorder. Some symptoms of PTSD include:
–– Re-experiencing the event flashbacks,
   nightmares, replaying, or intrusive
–– Avoidance
–– Loss of pleasure or emotional detachment
–– Hypervigilance, irritability, difficulty
Healing from birth trauma: Find a therapist
who specialises in birth trauma
–– Engage in psychological therapy with
   a qualified and experienced therapist
–– Acknowledge factors outside of your control
–– Practice self-compassion.

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                   Intrusive Thoughts

Intrusive thoughts: are unwanted,
involuntarily thoughts or images that
cause distress. Common examples                   “90% of new parents will
are thoughts of harm coming to your
baby or yourself.
                                                   experience intrusive
“What if I drop baby?”
“What if someone takes my baby?”                  Karen Kleiman, 2019
“What if I die in a car crash and my
  baby is without me?”

Intrusive thoughts are just thoughts.
They are not internal desires, plans,
or actions. You are not going crazy,
and you are not a bad parent.
Intrusive thoughts are a common
response to the overwhelming love,
fear and responsibility associated with
wanting to protect and care for your
dependant baby.
Talk to others about these thoughts,
acknowledge they will occur and let
them pass without giving them too
much attention.

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                                 Self-care Plan

How to Signal for Support

What are the signs I may need extra support? (eg. snapping at others, withdrawing.
What are your own cues of distress?)




How can I support my own well-being?




Who will I go to for support? (Include friends, family and one professional)




How can my loved ones best support me? (What could soneone one say to you if they thought
you could benefit from professional support?)




What are some local organisations I can go to for support? (Plunket, GP, midwife, 1737,
therapist, healthline)




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No. 4                                        Table of Contents


It is important to take time to consider the things
Dads and partners can do for their own well-being,
to have support when they might need it.
What are the signs I may need extra support? (eg. snapping at others, withdrawing.
What are your own cues of distress?)




How can I support my own well-being?




Who will I go to for support? (Include friends, family and one professional)




How can my loved ones best support me? (What could your partner/loved one say to you
if they thought you could benefit from professional support?)




What are some local organisations I can go to for support? (Plunket, GP, midwife, 1737,
therapist, healthline)




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                                    Tips for

The first few months with a newborn
can be challenging and disorienting for
new Dads, partners, and support people.             “Mum is busy taking care
Most of Mums time is taken up caring
for your baby while you are supporting
                                                     of baby, dad is busy taking
Mum in her recovery, so it is essential              care of Mum, but who is
for Dads and partners to look after
their own well-being too.                            busy taking care of dad?”
Here are some tips you may find useful                  Matrescence NZ
during the postpartum journey:
1. Chat to your friends who have kids –
   odds are they will have helpful advice
   or can simply offer an understanding
2. Ask your partner for practical things
   you can do to support them and your
   family. Doing something measurable
   and tangible that they currently can’t
   do can take the pressure off them,
   as well as help you feel productive.
3. Try and communicate your emotions
   to your partner. Share any thoughts,
   fears, doubts regarding parenting
   and remember you are a team!
4. Seek help from a professional therapist
   or your doctor if you are experiencing
   anxiety or depression. Research tells
   us that about 10% of men may experience
   postpartum depression (Paulson & Bazemore,
   2010). Interestingly, men’s hormones can
   fluctuate during the postpartum time
   too. Testosterone can decrease which
   is associated with depression in men.
5. Take it one day at a time. Feeling
   overwhelmed is normal – try to stay
   grounded in the present moment,
   managing one task at a time.

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No. 5                               Table of Contents

                              with Partner

There is the opportunity for your
relationship to grow stronger, but also
struggle at times under the pressures                 “Open and honest
of caring for a newborn (Delicate, 2018).
                                                       communication will
Initially, the time you previously had for
each other and yourselves is devoted
                                                       strengthen your
to your baby.                                          relationship”
This can put strain on your relationship,
                                                      Matrescence NZ
as you are also feeling tired, learning how
to care for baby, and navigating your new
responsibilities and financial changes.
In this section we encourage discussions
about how to work as a team, keep up
regular and honest communication and
how to stay connected to one another.
The Gottman Institute (TGI) has extensive
research, information and workshops for
assisting relationships as you transition
to parenthood. They offer insight into
supporting your own relationship as well
as supporting the emotional connection
that you form with your newborn.
Even following their social media offers
great tips and advise.

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                                 Staying Connected

Relationship with your partner: Ensure you
have a little time for yourself and your partner.

What do you enjoy doing together and why? Use the word ‘because’.

                                 Mum                                             Dad/partner

Example: I enjoy it when we go for a walk in the evenings   Example: I enjoy breakfast together on a Sunday because
because we aren’t on our phones so we get to catch up       it is nice to have a quiet, causal morning together at home
without distractions.                                       being comfortable in our PJs.

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No. 5                                                Table of Contents

                      Staying Connected

Have a discussion around the activities that you aim
to continue once baby is here. Highlight these.

Rank them in terms of how important they are to you, e.g., you may have one habit
that is a ‘level 1’, but you may have two habits that are a ‘level 3’. It is really important
to dedicate some time to each other. As time is limited, we need to make sure that
when you do make some ‘mum and dad’ time, that it is quality time.

Activity that you aim        Level of importance                    How will you make this happen?
     to continue              (1-3) and rationale                           (two examples)

Example: Sunday breakfast   Example: Level 3 – this is      Example:
– the three of us.          something that we would         –W
                                                              e will set dates, eg. every first and third Sunday
                            like to start as a family        of the month. As this means we are more likely
                            ritual, but there is no rush.    to follow through.
                                                            – We won’t be strict on ourselves. Even if it takes us
                                                               4 hours to make our meal, it’s about the process
                                                               and time spent together, not what time we have
                                                               breakfast/brunch/lunch together.

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Having a baby means that one person is always doing care tasks
related to your precious bundle. This means there is less time
for everything else, such as household chores.

We recommend that you discuss these baby care tasks AND everyday household chores
and decide who is going to do what. It doesn’t mean you can’t swap, help each other
with the other persons’ responsibilities, or that each person’s list will be the same size.
It is just important to have this conversation so you are clear on each other’s expectations.
eg. cooking meals, doing washing, taking the dogs for a walk, sterilising bottles, vacuuming,
washing the baby’s clothes, washing reusable nappies etc.

                   Mum’s responsibilities                 Partner’s responsibilities

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No. 5                                              Table of Contents

                        Finances and Going
                           Back to Work

                          Finances                                                     Back to work
Have a discussion with your partner                               Have a discussion with your partner and
about your current finances.                                      write down what your plans are for both of
                                                                  you regarding heading back to work and

Discussion points: Will/Do we have a joint account?               Example: Dad is going back to work after 2 weeks.
Could we start saving together now or do we have                  My mother will then come and stay for a week. I will go
another plan that works for both of us? What expenses             back to work 2 days a week once baby is 6 months old.
will be shared? Who will pay for baby’s nappies, the              We have our parents looking after baby for those two
groceries, things mum wants to do when she has no                 days a week. I intend to go back to work full time once
maternity pay or income? What government support                  baby is 2 years old. When I am at work full-time, we will
is available? Who is responsible for applying for this?           enrol baby in childcare.
How long can we afford for mum to not earn an income
 – what is a priority for us, what are we willing to sacrifice,
what is best for our whole family? What if mum wants
to stay off work longer/go back to work sooner, is this
an option? What if dad/partner wants to reduce their
working hours to spend more time caring for our baby?

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         Communicating about
      Challenges & Problem Solving

What do you expect will be your biggest concerns or worries, relating to your relationship?

                      Concern/worry            What can my partner do to             What can I do to support
                                               support me through this?               myself through this?

              Example: That you won’t be       Example: Be understanding that       Example: Listen to what my
              attracted to my body anymore.    my body has changed and I may        partner is saying, and not the ‘story
                                               feel embarrassed or shy. Say kind    in my head’.
                                               things to me about how I look.

              Example: That you will get       Example: Tell me specifically what   Example: Be more conscious of
              frustrated with me and I won’t   you need, want me to do or say.      what my partner might be feeling.
              know what to do.                                                      Be more aware.

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No. 5                                      Table of Contents

                        with my Partner

What helps us to communicate effectively with each other? eg., we had a good conversation
about our finances last week because we both put our phones away, we acknowledged how we
both felt, we had a shared outcome to achieve and we limited the discussion to 15 minutes.




If we are having a disagreement, how can we communicate in a way that allows both of us to
feel heard and listened to? What has worked in the past and what hasn’t? eg., when you make
fun of what I’m saying it makes me feel as though you are not taking me seriously. If I am trying
to have a serious conversation with you, I would feel more listened to if you didn’t make jokes.
Previously, if we have waited until we have both calmed down, we were able to listen and reason
better with each other.




Dr John Gottman shares four maladaptive communication styles and more adaptive ways we
can communicate with our partner.
–– Instead of criticism, use “I” statements.
–– Instead of contempt, show appreciation.
–– Instead of defensiveness, take responsibility.
–– Instead of stonewalling, have a break, self-soothe, then come back to the conversation.

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No. 6                                   Table of Contents

                                  Resources &
There are many resources and organisations           Breastfeeding Support. There are many
available to support you. It is about finding        different options for support:
the right person/organisation for you. It            –– Ask your midwife for a list of organisations
can be useful to take a look at some of the             in your local areas
websites of these organisations so you are
                                                     –– La Leche League NZ:
familiar with them should you want to seek
support in the future.                               –– Peer Support Groups: Groups run
                                                        throughout the week at various locations
For example, you can search for local mum               and are free of charge. They are usually
and parent groups on Facebook and be                    hosted by trained breastfeeding peer
connected prior to your baby arriving. Your             supporters who are able to refer to lactation
midwife and local Well Child Provider will              consultants if necessary. Information
be able to help you find some local support.            about days and times can be found at:
Some things you might like to research        
and write down include:                                 support

General Professional Advice                          Support with Sleep
–– Midwife                                           –– Plunket: speak to your Plunket nurse to see
                                                        what support and advice you can receive
–– Doctor
                                                        from them.
–– Plunket line 24/7 for parenting help and
                                                     –– Check out
   support 0800 933 922 (call or search
                                                        for general sleep advice.
   online to find your local drop in times
   and appointments)                                 –– Sleep coaches: A private sleep consultant
                                                        can visit your home to help create a sleep
–– Healthline for health advice and information
                                                        plan for you and your little one.
   0800 611 116
                                                     Local Exercise Groups
Lactation Consultant Service
                                                     Research postpartum classes. There are online
Free services are available through Plunket
                                                     options as well as many specifically designed
Online Lactation Consultation, as well as
                                                     for mothers after birth, and classes where
private fee for service Lactation Consultation.
                                                     you can bring your baby.
Search or ask for recommendations for some
in your area.
                                                     Postpartum Mental Health Support
Mum and Baby Classes                                 There are different organisations in different
                                                     parts of NZ to support you with your mental
Ask around. There are all sorts of local groups
                                                     well-being. Ask you plunket nurse, GP or
and classes available (coffee, playgroups,
                                                     midwife about these local services.
fitness, music, sensory etc):
                                                     Access free support groups, individual
–– Plunket PEPE classes (infant massage and
                                                     therapy and other resources if available
   so much more)
                                                     to you in your area.
–– Playcentres:
–– Parents Centre:
   - Baby and You
   - Moving and Munching
   - Mums and bubs groups

© Matrescence New Zealand 2022                                                                           41
No. 6                                     Table of Contents


This list is designed to provide you with resources that
will help guide and support you through the postpartum
period and your transition to motherhood

             Book/Audiobook                           Podcasts/Social Media/Apps

What No One Tells You – Alexandra             Podcasts & Social Media Accounts:
Sacks and Catherine Birndorf
                                              –– Dear Mama Project
The Headspace Guide to a Mindful       
Pregnancy – Andy Puddicombe
                                              –– Dr Sophie Brock
The First Forty Days – Hang Ou         
The Postnatal Depletion Cure – Dr Oscar       –– Matrescence.podcast
The Fourth Trimester – Kimberly Ann           –– Happy as a Mother
Dance with me in the Heart – Pennie A.        –– Amy Taylor Kabbaz
Mama Rising – Amy Taylor-Kabbaz               –– Beth Berry
                                              –– The Gottman Institute
                                              –– Couples.counselling.for.parents

                                              –– Positively Pregnant (NZ made)

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                         Collection of Phrases

These phrases have helped support parents to reframe
their thinking and change the way they feel.

1. You are both learning, it takes      12. Ask yourself “is this thought/
    time to get to know each other            action helpful?”

2. There is NO one right way            13. Baby’s crying is communication
                                              – I am a detective
3. Focus on your own positives,
     not another person’s negatives      14. My only job is to care for
                                              myself and my baby
4. P
    rioritise only what is
     necessary                       15. You must be having a growth
                                          spurt or development leap
5. L
    ower your expectations (of           so you need more from me
     yourself and your productivity)      at the moment

6. Expect challenges, reflect,          16. L
                                              ooks like today is just going
     try new things                          to be a day of cuddles

7. D
    on’t wish for your current          17. I’m not sure why you’re
     moment to be anything                    crying but we will figure
     different than what it is                it out together

8. C
    are moments are quality             18. I’m doing my best and my
     moments                                  best is good enough

9. I t’s okay to be/feel anything       19. You need me lots right now
                                              but this won’t last forever
10. A
     cknowledge your feelings
                                         20. M
                                              y baby does want to sleep,
11. F
     ind things to be grateful for          they just need my help

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No. 7                                        Table of Contents

                                   About us

                                                         “We are sisters born 14
                                                          months apart. We have
                                                          always been close and
                                                          without planning it, we
                                                          happened to give birth
                                                          to our first babies just
                                                          10 days apart.”
                                                          Christina & Samantha Bond

We have both always been passionate about           their roles in our communities and the
health, well-being and children. After being        psychological and emotional challenges
surprised by how challenging those first few        mothers face.
months were, we wanted to combine those
                                                    We are proud to offer workshops that are
interests and help new mums. One effective
                                                    founded on evidence-based research and
way to facilitate positive well-being in our
                                                    lived experiences. This framework focuses
community is to prevent ill-health in the           on supporting the well-being of mums
first place. Therefore, supporting Mums             before and after the birth of their children.
to look after themselves and nurture their
babies in the first few years is a valuable         We offer unique antenatal workshops for
early intervention.                                 first-time mums and dads/support people.
                                                    Dads that have attended our workshops
Traditional antenatal workshops and                 have felt they are better equipped with an
postnatal care currently focus predominantly        understanding of the mental and emotional
on the birth and caring of newborns.                journey experienced by mothers, as well
We believe (and research shows) that by             as their own journey.
supporting our mothers and their partners,
they will then be better equipped to care           Along with the public, we also offer workshops
for their pēpi. To achieve this, we felt there      to educate professionals working in maternal
was a need for antenatal workshops that             care where we will provide evidence based
focus on mums’ well-being.                          information surrounding the transition to
                                                    motherhood, how we can better support
We believe that information and education           our mothers, and this unique Postpartum
should be available to all. Therefore, we are       Plan for you to use with your clients.
passionate about spreading the word of
Matrescence to normalise, validate and raise        Samantha Bond – BA (Education), PGDipTchgLn
awareness of the challenges of motherhood.          (Primary)
Through education we want to change                 Christina Bond – PGDipPsycPrac, MSc, MBM, PGDipHSc,
the way society view and value mothers,             PGCertNFPM, BA (Hons).

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No. 7                                                             Table of Contents

                   Unique Antenatal
                   Workshops 2022

                   Preparing for the Psychological
                   Challenges of Having a Newborn

                 How can you give your
                 baby the best start to life?
                         Support yourself to be
                         the best mum you can be.

                Focused On:
                                                                                                 “This class covered topics that I don’t think
                     The postpartum period - The fourth trimester                                 are discussed enough (if at all) elsewhere,
                     Caregivers’ well-being - mums, dads and support people                         yet they are topics that relate to every
                     Mental well-being - The emotional and psychological journey                                  new parent”
                                                                                                                2021 Testimony
                     Research and evidence based strategies

                Topics Covered:
                                                                                                   “I honestly feel as though the workshop
                    Birth and labour                                                                  equipped me with some invaluable
                    Feeding and sleep                                                                  tools to tackle this new journey
                    Matrescence (the transition to motherhood)                                                 with confidence”
                                                                                                                 2021 Testimony
                    CBT strategies & emotional regulation
                    Caregivers’ mental health & well-being

                What makes Matrescence NZ workshops unique?
                 These workshops:
                    Are underpinned by research, providing evidence-based strategies that are effective
                    for promoting emotional resilience

                    Discuss matrescence - one of the biggest transitions in a woman's life
                    Focus on what parents find the most challenging aspects of having a newborn
                    Support mums’/caregivers’ well-being (we do not discuss how to burp and bath baby,
                    but how to manage when baby won’t sleep or when you’re offered 6 different unsolicited
                    pieces of advice and you’re exhausted!)

                    Discuss birth, labour and feeding, designed and delivered by a midwife. Covering all you
                    need to know, with an additional emotional resilience perspective

                    Work towards reducing mental health difficulties such as postpartum depression,
                    anxiety, birth trauma and intrusive thoughts

                     Facilitated by a range of Matrescence NZ experts such as a teacher, psychologist, midwife and sleep consultant

                                 There are a selection of workshop options available ONLINE and a growing range
                                      of in person locations throughout New Zealand. For more information
                                              and to register: |

                                 To find out more information please visit

© Matrescence New Zealand 2022                                                                                                                         45
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