Wimmera leaders question baby manual need

NEW parents wondering whether their baby comes with a how-to manual will get their wish.

The Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne is developing a parenting kit with the assistance of the State Government.

But Wimmera health care professionals believe ample information is already available for new parents.

The parenting kit, intended to guide parents from conception to a baby’s first birthday, will comprise tips from parents and health professionals.

On Christmas Eve, Minister for Health David Davis launched a webpage for people to offer their advice.

The site will be open for submissions until mid-2014, which will help form the parenting kit.

“This kit is another way for expecting and new parents to build on the good health choices we know they are already making,” Mr Davis said.

The State Government has also committed $1.3 million towards the project. But Wimmera health care professionals are questioning its need.

Australian Breastfeeding Association breastfeeding counsellor Katie Walsgott said she felt there were already ample resources available.

“I’ll never say no to extra information, but I’m hoping they will be developing something that is not already available, or making people better aware of things that are already available and encouraging them to make better use of them,” she said.

The Horsham mother of four and Wimmera Health Care Group nurse said the region’s new parents typically received a wealth of information throughout all stages of their pregnancy.

“As a parent myself, I feel I have been given opportunities to access a lot of information along the way,” she said.

“As a health professional working in the area as well, I have been able to provide information.

“I feel the information is already out there if you want to find it.”

Mrs Walsgott said maternal and child health nurses already provided information packs relevant to each recommended visit, which were quite frequent in the first year.

Victorian parents can access maternal and child health services for free.

Consultations are recommended at 10 stages in a child’s development, from birth to three and a half years, with six consultations dated within the first 12 months.

Mrs Walsgott said parents at Wimmera Base Hospital also received a pack of information when they booked in to deliver their baby.

“Some people will read every bit of information available to them; others will read none,” she said.

“I do wonder, what was the motivation for the parenting kit? Is it really necessary? Could that be money better spent elsewhere?”

Dr David Wilson of Lister House Clinic in Horsham said he saw many of the region’s new parents, and said he supported the kit concept.

“For years, people have jokingly asked if the baby came with a manual,” he said.

“There is a lot of information out there, and parents these days would look on the internet, where there can be lots of conflicting information from all over the world.

“Information from a reputable resource like the Royal Women’s Hospital would seem a good idea.”

But he stressed the first point of contact for concerned new Wimmera parents should be their health providers.

“GPs and maternal and child health nurses have a wealth of knowledge and can approach things from a regional perspective,” he said.

Horsham maternal and child health nurse Judy Harrington said the parenting kit would be a bonus for new parents, but said it was crucial expectant parents engaged with their health professionals.

“It is essential for new and expectant parents to be given accurate information about their pregnancy and the birth of their new baby,” she said.

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