Liptember supports Safe Mothers, Safe Babies at the Women’s

Professor Louise Newman
Professor Louise Newman: early intervention is key
29 April 2016 | Fundraising | Mental health

The first stage of a unique program that provides mental healthcare to pregnant women at risk of family violence has been introduced by the Royal Women’s Hospital.

Funded by Liptember through the Royal Women’s Hospital Foundation, Safe Mothers, Safe Babies is a tailored-made program to be run through antenatal clinics at the Women’s with experts from the Centre for Women’s Mental Health (CWMH).

“We know family violence increases in pregnancy with serious consequences for the woman and her baby,” CWMH Director Professor Louise Newman said. Prof Newman added that around 20 per cent of family violence begins in pregnancy.

She said antenatal clinics were ideal settings for identifying women at risk and then providing information and support.

“Safe Mothers, Safe Babies will not only support women in protecting their own mental health and the health of their baby, it will offer continuity of care pathways to tailor-made mental health support,” Prof Newman said.

“Through the CWMH we are uniquely placed to provide expert mental healthcare to pregnant women experiencing family violence. There is currently no standard approach to this and no designated early intervention service.”

Prof Newman said early intervention was key as stress and anxiety in pregnancy impacted both the mother’s mental health and a baby’s development. Developing infants are extremely sensitive to the effects of stress related hormones with potentially long term effects.

Safe Mothers, Safe Babies will be introduced in three stages. Stage I will trial and develop the best way to ask pregnant women if they are at risk of family violence. Stage II will focus on the continued training of staff at the Women’s in trauma focussed mental health support and Stage III will be a longitude study following the mothers and babies.

The Women’s CEO Dr Sue Matthews said family violence, and broader violence against women and children, had major and long lasting health impacts.

“Our experience is that hospitals are uniquely placed to provide women with a safe place to disclose family violence and link them with family violence services,” Dr Matthews said.

“We know that for many women, a health care professional can often be the first person they will talk to.”

Safe Mothers, Safe Babies is being supported by Liptember, the campaign that raises funds and awareness for women’s mental health during the month of September.

Announcing a $315,000 donation from Liptember, Managing Director of the women’s mental health charity Luke Morris said:

“Over the past five years Liptember has been delighted to support various mental health programs via our partnership with the Royal Women’s Hospital. Safe Mothers, Safe Babies, is a new project funded as a direct result of our 2015 campaign and we’re incredibly excited to see the impact it creates.”

“To be in a position to make donations of this size is a credit to all our supporters and corporate partners. We’re especially grateful for the support from our Major Partner Chemist Warehouse, without their support donations of this size would not be possible.”