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The Pressure On New Parents

My Experience At The Pregnancy and Baby Expo, Perth 2022

Recently, I had the opportunity to volunteer for the Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA) exhibition stand at the Pregnancy and Baby Expo held in Perth. I have been a Clinical Champion (Clinical Champions are clinicians and experts working in the perinatal space) for PANDA for a couple of years, helping out by taking part in consultations and participating in surveys surrounding the Perinatal & Infant Mental Health field. Volunteering at the exhibition was my first opportunity to engage with families as a Clinical Champion in person, and I felt privileged to be able to have many conversations with pregnant women, new mothers, partners, and grandparents.

I was surprised by the number of people who hadn’t heard of PANDA and were unaware of the statistics surrounding anxiety and depression for mothers and partners in the perinatal period. When sharing statistics and information with exhibition-goers, it was easy to sense their relief in understanding that they were far from alone in experiencing certain thoughts and feelings. It was great to open dialogue around perinatal and infant mental health and I was very touched by some of the experiences shared with me.

(The PANDA exhibition booth at the Pregnancy and Baby Expo, 2022)

The Pressure On New Parents To Have It All

It has undoubtedly been a long time since my youngest was born, and I couldn't help but feel that preparing to be a new parent these days seems more complicated and pressured than it used to be. At the exhibition, I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stalls and services on display. Whilst appreciating the innovative products and services being made available to the attendees, I could not help but feel that the immense range of goods on offer would be extremely overwhelming for new parents.

Watching families and couples struggle to carry all of their new goodies highlighted the pressure on new parents/caregivers to buy. Of course, they all have the best intention of providing everything possible for their new baby, but it seems to be becoming less clear as to what items are essential in this convoluted and saturated market.

YOU are the most important thing

If there is anything I can say to minimise the pressure that parents/caregivers face when considering what to purchase, it would be to reinforce that the most important thing your baby needs is YOU. It is not the most expensive or up-to-date product on the market or the new trending baby clothes on social media. It is you. Sensitive, contingent, kind and nurturing caregiving is of utmost importance to your baby. Hearing your voice, feeling your skin on theirs, looking at your face, experiencing mutual eye contact, knowing your scent, and learning you will respond to them when they need you, is enough to foster a healthy developing attachment relationship. Of course, there will be a lot of trial and error whilst you work each other out (a bit like a dance between you!) but soon your baby will begin to trust that the world is a safe place when you are close by.

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