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Bright Futures

Articles and Updates from Phoenix Children's

May 16, 2022, Jarred Gallegos, PhD ,
It Takes A Village: Supporting Infant and Family Mental Health
It Takes A Village: Supporting Infant and Family Mental Health

Bringing a new baby home can be a beautiful and exciting time for parents and families. There are also many aspects of this transition that pose challenges to families, including sleepless nights, changes in family roles and responsibilities, and increased social isolation. Thus, family advocates describe the postpartum period as a “Season of Receiving”, when new families obtain support from family, friends, and community. The age-old adage states “It takes a village to raise a child,” but how do we bring a “village” to a family.

Although there may be barriers to providing in-person support, here are some tips for how to support families following the birth of a child, while maintaining safe health practices:

  • ASK. This may sound overly simplistic, but it is highly recommended to first ask a family if there are any current needs. The hope is to identify the most needed area of support first, before moving on to other needs.
  • SUGGEST. Suggest or provide options that the family can choose from.  Giving suggestions can reduce the mental burden on the family to identify specific tasks or needs while still providing realistic ways to help.

Here are some ideas:

  • Meals
  • Household chores
  • Childcare
  • Errands
  • Petcare
     
  • BE AVAILABLE. Families may not need additional support at a given time. Instead of continuing to reach out with suggestions, let the family know about available support in the future if needed.
  • RESPECT. Please respect personal and familial boundaries. Newborns are more susceptible to illness and infection and families may choose to limit physical presence and interactions. Provide care and assistance from a distance and be patient as the family navigates this new and exciting journey!
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