Real stories written by real Waikato mums

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alannah r.

“As a first-time mum I needed help as my 7-month-old son was waking multiple times a night – I didn’t know what to do, and I was so tired.

Nothing that I had been doing was working anymore, and I had tried to get help but the advice wasn’t right for us. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with him, I just needed some guidelines on a routine for his age, and what I could do to improve his sleeping as I just didn’t know. Thankfully a friend told me about the Family Centre and I got the courage up to give them a call.

When I first went there I was pretty nervous, so I took a friend along with me for support. They were so welcoming to us both and sat us down and gave us a cup of tea. One of the staff took Charlie off me so that I could talk. They took the time to understand what was happening for my son and me. They asked about his feeding and eating, his sleeping and what I had tried.

From our time together, they made suggestions about what we could do that might help him with his sleeping and feeding, and also gave me a couple of routine options for him. I used their advice and it was great - it worked. It was simple tweaks I could make to how much he was feeding or eating to encourage night sleeping, and methods I could use to settle him back to sleep.  I went back to them again recently to get some more advice on his routine now that he is older, and again it has worked for him.

One of the major differences I found in going to the Family Centre was that they could actually see Charlie, talk to me about what was going on for him, and I could share things with them. They gave me practical advice for our situation, that I couldn’t get from a book.

For other mums out there, I would say – You don’t need to battle alone. Every baby is different. Just come into the Family Centre – they will make you a cup of tea and talk about it with you. It doesn’t matter if it’s a big or small issue. No-one is going to turn you away.”

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Julie B.

“My pregnancy was a dream. I was so lucky to have experienced no sickness, no pains, no feelings of "get this baby out of me". I was mentally and physically ready for labour and birth.

At six days overdue, I was still feeling great and enjoying the privilege of pregnancy. I felt amazingly empowered by my body after 9 hours labouring through all the pain at home. I was 10cm dilated when I arrived at the birth centre. Once there, all I had was the gas before I managed to push out a 7lb13oz baby - go me, woohoo, Yasssss Queen! I felt like I had just run, and WON a marathon. The endorphins were flowing through me, I truly felt like a rockstar. Even I wanted my autograph (joke).

Then I had to learn to breastfeed.

Well, all that pain I went through during labour was absolutely nothing on the excruciating pain I endured from breastfeeding. My midwife said it was normal and I would get through it (it wasn't and I didn't). My GP said I had thrush (it wasn't). After months of exhausting exclusive expressing to avoid feeding directly at the breast, it was the Family Centre staff who picked up on the actual medical issue I had (Raynauds Phenomenon - which is basically chilblains on the nips).

Once this was diagnosed properly, I was able to wean my baby off the bottle and back to the boob. What a relief it was to no longer be in agony when feeding. Had the Family Centre staff not have been so supportive of my decision to 1) continue to express and 2) try to re-start breastfeeding directly, I would not have achieved this. My daughter decided to wean from me a week before her third birthday. This was a milestone I was so very proud of and is by far my biggest achievement in my life.

The Family Centre staff also recognised my symptoms of PND and anxiety when very early on in my daughter's life she stopped breathing and had to be rushed to hospital in an ambulance. As a new Mum (struggling with everything else!), this sent me down the rabbit hole of post natal anxiety.

The support I received from the staff, but especially from Maureen's PND evening sessions, was just incredible. Understanding that PND wasn't something I could've fixed or prevented was a relief for me. Having the chemical imbalance explained was again, such a huge relief.  I owe my life to the amazing, caring, supportive team at the Waikato Family Centre and will be forever in their debt.”

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"I first came to the Family Centre when my wee darling was five and half weeks old.  I suspected she wasn't getting enough milk from me, because she was really hard to settle, cried lots and was constantly cueing me with "hungry signals".  My midwife was really pro-breastfeeding, to the point I was expressing every two hours and breastfeeding and exhausted and feeling really inadequate!  It was not acknowledged that all was not as it should have been.  The baby had three poor weeks of weight gain and I was beside myself - it's a really primal thing, wanting your baby not to be hungry.

I went to the Family Centre.  I was distressed as I knew my supply was down, I had been giving her some formula after my breastfeeds for a few days.  I was concerned as I really wanted to breastfeed my baby for as long as possible.

I was reassured not judged and after feeding my breasts were expressed and this was given to baby with a small amount of formula.  I was given advice and options to possibly maintain/increase my supply and each visit thereafter my feeding was assessed and pertinent options discussed.

We kept that up till a few weeks ago, when I weaned her at 20 weeks, but only as I injured my back and are on really strong painkillers.  I know that if I hadn't come to the Family Centre, I would have given up breastfeeding long before 20 weeks.

Coming to the Family Centre was really important for my self-esteem, and for normalising my experience.  I had felt that I was the only mother in Hamilton who has trouble breastfeeding, but the Family Centre and the other mums who went there with me helped me realise that I wasn't alone, that you can successfully breastfeed and bottle feed at the same time and that it isn't the end of the world if you don't have enough milk.

Thanks to Maureen and her wonderful team, my baby has had the best possible start that I was capable of giving her.  My wee darling is thriving and I couldn't be happier".

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"The birth of our second child was anticipated with much excitement and nervousness.  Our first child had many problems with her health and I was anxious that her brother would suffer the same problems.  Lachlan was born by elective caesarean strong and healthy.  Everything seemed to be going OK at first; he was a good feeder and slept OK.  At three weeks he started showing signs of gastric reflux, (a condition his older sister suffers from also) and things just went down hill from there.

I remember my husband coming home from work around that time to find me in the kitchen crying my eyes out.  He couldn't understand why I wasn't coping with two children when others coped so much better with more.  That was when I phoned the Family Centre.  I had been in with my daughter when she was a baby and not settling.

Maureen greeted me at the door with compassion, understanding and a wealth of knowledge.  I burst into tears and poured my heart out to her and after an assessment we came to the conclusion that I was suffering from Post Natal Depression (PND), severe PND in fact.  Maureen phoned my GP and that day was the beginning of a wonderful friendship I developed with the Family Centre.

The Waikato Family Centre runs an eight week Post Natal Depression support group.  During this time I received the support and knowledge I need to get me back on top of things.  I also met two of the best friends I will ever have.  During the eight weeks the course ran, we have support and information from a pharmacist in regards to the different medications available and side effect, doctor and psychologist, plus mum talking about their experience of PND from past PND Groups, and of course the wonderful Maureen.  

For me, I was in denial for some time and couldn't accept that I had depression and the stigma that goes along with that.  The group helped me to understand the mechanics behind the hormone imbalance that lead to the uncontrollable tears, the feelings of worthlessness, the inability to look forward to anything in my life, and the anger and resentment I felt for my husband.  We had a partner's evening which was beneficial for our partners to get an insight into how we were really feeling and how it could be managed.  Maureen also lent me a very easy book to read on post natal depression which I shared with my husband and mother, and that too was invaluable in helping them understand how I was feeling.  Maureen also has the most wonderful insight and intuition in regards to each one of her mums she sees at the centre.

I wanted to move into the centre or at least hire one of the wonderful Karitane nurses to come and move in with us!!  The nurses at the centre helped me with Lachlan's feeding and sleeping issues for weeks and with their knowledge and support through the group and medication to control Lachlan's reflux, I finally began to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

If you are a mum out there reading this and you too are finding things tough going with a new born, please know that you do not need to do it alone.  There is support, great advice and empathy in abundance at the Waikato Family Centre.  Now 3 years on, my son still suffers from gastric reflux, but I however had completely recovered from Post Natal Depression."


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