The Parent-Infant Research Institute (PIRI) is excited to announce expansion of its digital programs for new parents with the launch of its Towards Parenthood online interactive workbook. The online program is an evolution of PIRI’s Towards Parenthood hardcopy workbook that has supported Aussie parents for more than a decade. Going digital extends the accessibility and reach of this program and makes prevention programs, supports and treatments available to more expectant and new parents, helping to address the urgent mental health needs of Australia’s newest and growing families.
Becoming a parent is a major life transition, and a substantial number of men and women have difficulty navigating this transition.
Towards Parenthood is for expectant mothers and fathers to assist with the transition to parenthood. It has been shown to be helpful in reducing postnatal symptoms of depression and anxiety and aims to facilitate caregiving and attachment in the early months following birth. Importantly, couples can work together to increase communication and planning prior to the birth of a baby as this is a time of major upheaval to previous routines and is frequently a period where loss of sleep and adjusting to the demands of a baby can challenging.
Adjustment difficulties are common, and for some anxiety and/or depression can be profound, both at home and in the workplace. As well as an immediate effect on well-being, depression if present also affects parent-infant interactions and has long-term implications for the child’s cognitive, behavioural, and social development, as well as negative effects on partners and the couple relationship.
Towards Parenthood is designed to improve coping skills and problem-solving strategies that enhance self-esteem and parenting competency. As well as focusing on the impact a baby may have on the couple relationship, strategies to improve communication and reduce conflict are also included. Information about the needs and capacities of the newborn help prepare new parents for what lies ahead and improve the understanding of baby’s behavioural cues which is helpful for bonding with the baby.
The self-help workbook comprises of nine chapters – eight to be read during a partner’s pregnancy and one to be read following birth. There’s a separate chapter for mums and dads that highlight relevant challenges, and remaining chapters focus on managing common issues. Our evidence-based program has been the subject of rigorous trials.
Towards parenthood was developed with Aussie parents by a team of psychologists who have a wealth of experience working with families making the transition to parenthood. The topics chosen, the interactive exercises and the use of humour and real-life examples make the content not only informative but entertaining.
The focus is not on the physical aspects of the pregnancy, delivery and postpartum but rather more broadly on assisting parents to manage the complex demands of parenthood by developing helpful coping and parenting skills. It is a useful prevention program and provides useful strategies for dealing with the stresses of parenting at an early phase.
By providing the program online, new mothers and fathers can benefit from accessible supports particularly for those who may be socially isolated or living in regional communities which can sometimes make it difficult to access more traditional perinatal support services.
Towards parenthood is ideal for:
- Expectant parents
- Friends and relatives looking for a useful baby gift
- Health professionals working with expectant and new parents
- Work organizations who value their staff commencing parental leave
PIRI is passionate about supporting all Australians throughout the perinatal journey, particularly those in rural and regional communities where access to face-to-face care presents its own unique challenges.
It has never been more crucial to invest in the earliest years to build a brighter future. This is PIRI’s mission, and we hope the launch of this online interactive program provides much needed advice and support to Australian families in the transition to parenthood.
To find out more about Towards Parenthood, visit https://www.piri.org.au/programs/towards-parenthood-workbook-program/
Research Publication: Towards parenthood: An antenatal intervention to reduce depression, anxiety and parenting difficulties.