May 3, 2018

A new positive parenting support app for vulnerable mums

This blog entry was authored by Lauren Thomas, Program Manager,
Professional Community Engagement at the Australian Childhood Foundation


When I first discovered I was pregnant, I was in a secure, safe relationship with strong social supports and a large family to provide care. Still, I felt overwhelmed. When I ask other mothers, I know my experience is not unusual.

Many mothers rely on google and other ‘mummy blogs’ to inform them of the answers to the many questions that arise. The answers are varied, layered with criticisms, shaming and judgement and insistence on one-size-fits-all approaches to motherhood and parenting that are usually too simplistic to actually be helpful.

The Babes Project,So I was really excited to read that a Victorian crisis pregnancy support service, determined that every new mother should be empowered to thrive, created a beautiful app for newly pregnant and vulnerable mothers. Although I’m not currently expecting, I downloaded it to have a look around and read some of the stories from other mothers.

It is beautiful. And better yet, it is free.

So I reached out to the organisation who built it to learn more and was able to speak with The Babes Project founder and managing director Helen Parker, gaining more insight into how it came about.

“Working with pregnant women and new mums every day, we’re seeing them increasingly turn to their phones for advice and support – and social media and baby forums often add to the stress and sense of panic,” Helen said.

“Like our face-to-face perinatal program, the Babes Project App offers information that’s relevant and timely, and importantly, it’s backed by a real community, and allows real connection, rather than just faceless internet advice – or judgement and criticism!”

Developed in Melbourne, as well as timely information about pregnancy stages and the first year of baby’s life, it also connects mothers with key Australian contacts and services, an interactive calendar, photo diaries, and experiences shared by other mothers.

“Negative attitudes around having children at a young age, or without a partner, or in a range of challenging situations, are often leaving women to raise children alone and vulnerable – and that’s a bad outcome for the mother, and for the baby.”

Helen said women are more likely to experience domestic violence while pregnant, can lose job opportunities due to their pregnancy, and risk the breakdown of relationships around their decision to have their baby.

At the same time, we know more than ever about the vital perinatal period for healthy child development, and the importance of the mother’s health and wellbeing during this time.

Founded and operated by mothers, for mothers, The Babes Project delivers care at Pregnancy Support Centres in Croydon and Frankston in Victoria, where staff and volunteers ensure that clients receive regular emotional care, practical advice, essential baby supplies and connections to other health services, all in a safe and nurturing environment.

It is wonderful that their service can be extended to mothers further afield through this new app. I am sure you will find it valuable for the mothers you are working with too.