Where can you turn when your baby just won’t sleep? Or eat? Or settle?

I always felt born to be a mum, that motherhood would come naturally as soon as I held my baby in my arms. Instead, it all went horribly wrong in the first few hours at home with my firstborn. Fuelled by sleep deprivation and a feeling of hopelessness, I turned to my husband and declared that I’d ruined our lives. Dramatic, yes, but I couldn’t stop the words from spilling out. So I picked up the phone, and made a call that saved my sanity that first night, and on many others along my parenting journey.

I cringe now when I think of that moment, telling my husband that having a baby had ruined everything we’d had as a couple. We had been up for hours with this screaming nine pound creature, who for love nor money would not sleep. We had tried driving him in the car (not a great idea when you’re tired), rocking in a chair, rocking in our arms, a bath, feeds, nappy changes. But the screaming went on and on.

tired parents newborn

I so wanted to call my mum, but I didn’t want to wake her at an ungodly hour, or feel like a failure on my very first night home as a new mum. So I did the next best thing, I called a parent helpline. In Victoria, where I live, I dialled the Maternal and Child Health Line. The blessed soul on the other end was a qualified maternal and child health nurse, and the advice she gave us worked almost instantly. While it might not work for everyone, she suggested popping our son into bed with us, if we were comfortable with the idea, and trying co-sleeping. And lo and behold our little cherub instantly settled and slept. And mercifully, so did we.

mum newborn sleeping

From that day on, the Maternal and Child Health Line became my lifeline when I hit a parenting stumbling block. Yes, sometimes the wait was long, but just knowing that someone was on the other end of the line at times was all I needed to defuse the situation. From breastfeeding woes to the kids running a fever, I used the free service a huge amount in my first years as a mum.

There are similar helplines across Australia, that can help with advice and a kind word when you’re struggling, and we’ve listed them below. From one mum to another, while we all like to think we can handle anything that comes our way, there’s no shame in asking for help. Don’t feel like you’re waving a white flag, but rather tapping into the village that we all need, to help raise our families.

Australian parenting helplines:

Queensland

Parentline Queensland & NT 1300 30 1300

Queensland Health 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84)

NSW

Parent Line NSW 1300 130 052

Tresillian Parent Helpline 1300 272 736 (1300 2Parent)

Karitane Careline 1300 227 464

ACT

Parentline ACT (02) 6287 3833

Victoria

Maternal and Child Health Advisory Line 132 229

Parentline Victoria 132 289

Tasmania

Parentline Tasmania 1300 808 178

SA

Parent Helpline South Australia 1300 364 100

WA

Parenting WA Line (08) 6279 1200 (metropolitan) or 1800 654 432 (regional)

NT

Parentline Queensland & NT 1300 30 1300

 

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