South East Sydney offers innovative support for new parents during COVID-19

Thanks to our devoted and fast-working teams, new parents across SESLHD have continued to receive ongoing support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic without missing a beat.

Child and Family Health provides services for parents and children aged 0 to 5 years, facilitating important social connections while providing advice to parents about a wide range of topics including feeding, sleep and settling.

The team responded quickly when COVID-19 restrictions forced the cancellation of activities such as mothers’ groups, and identified the need for continued support for new parents. Within weeks of the introduction of restrictions, online mothers’ groups and two new dedicated parent hotlines had been established.

Alexandra Read, Nurse Manager, Child and Family Health, said the team recognises the importance of these groups in addressing social isolation and quickly moved them online, with the set-up ready to go by mid-March.

“Parents are invited to join an online video conferencing group, each with around eight to 10 mothers, facilitated by a Child and Family Health nurse that are run as we would in a face-to-face setting,” Ms Read said.

“Sessions run for about an hour and are held once a week for three weeks. Participants are then encouraged to share their details across their own preferred social media platform to stay in touch."

The new dedicated telephone parent helplines, also implemented in March, offer feeding support, particularly for breastfeeding, where mothers are able to speak with a Child and Family Health nurse or lactation consultant, and a general nursing support line, which also provides access to a nurse to discuss any aspects of parenting or child development.

Over at the Royal Hospital for Women, antenatal and postnatal education programs have provided continuous support for new parents, albeit in a brand new format.

Pre COVID-19, the hospital’s popular Mumsense group was an opportunity for new mums to meet for a coffee and learn from experts at The Royal. These sessions have resumed online, as has the Becoming Amazing Mums program, designed for women with a history of childhood abuse, as well as Mums and Bubs Yoga, now streamed live via telehealth. 

Dr Jane Svensson, Clinical Midwifery Consultant at The Royal, said: “New mums and dads who met and learned together during their antenatal classes are continuing to catch up online in the early postnatal period along with their educator. The women and their partners also have their own WhatsApp groups, so they’re able to resume a friendship and support network in this format also.”

The hospital has also continued its culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) antenatal groups online for women from overseas birthing at the hospital. Topics focus on preparing women for labour, taking baby home and enjoying parenting. Sessions are delivered in English and interpreters are available.

Galuh L Sapthari, Cross Cultural Worker, Maternity and Child & Family Health Services, said: “It’s been so important to be able to continue our classes for CALD women. In our conversations we’ve been able to share knowledge and bring women together during a period of isolation – when family support is not always available.”


Nicki Cooley (Clinical Nurse Specialist) & Alexandra Read (Nurse Manager, Child and Family Health) running an online mothers’ group