Physiotherapy approach to improve the mental health of mothers

04/Mar/2021     Research

Health Service Research received a boost for further work into understanding perinatal physiotherapy care through a new co-designed program for Mater Mothers’ Hospital and the upcoming Mater Family Wellbeing Service.

One of four winners of Mater’s inaugural Best Start Grant, Senior Physiotherapist Sheridan Guyatt and her team, will continue their passionate work with women following the birth of their babies.

 “Mater Family Wellbeing Service will be a great opportunity to help mothers’ physical and mental health in the near future. Supporting mothers to develop skills in mindfulness, relaxation, breathing, movement, exercise and infant play —through a group intervention—is our physiotherapy philosophy to work to improve the mental health of postnatal women,” Ms Guyatt said.

“Postnatal depression and anxiety are common and impact a mothers’ quality-of-life, her family interactions and the crucial first 1000 days of her baby’s life.”

Ms Guyatt and the physiotherapy team have a unique skillset within the multidisciplinary team to support new mothers to build her skillset for recovery and wellbeing. These skills include self-awareness and modulation of the physical symptoms of stress or anxiety through group exercise, movement, mindfulness, breathing, relaxation, and mother baby interactions through responsive baby play. 

The co-designed program will utilise physiotherapy expertise in the area of movement and mindfulness in a postnatal population. This area of study will measure the impact of a Physiotherapy-led postnatal therapy group for mothers and their babies, aiming to improve maternal quality-of-life and mental health.

“This group will be co-designed by mothers and their feedback will guide future perinatal mental health interventions.”

The Best Start Grant provides funding to support project staff salaries, direct project costs and education or training expenses for clinical research.

The Mater Family Wellbeing Service will be established in ‘Catherine’s House’, the soon to be refurbished convent on Mater’s South Brisbane campus, with plans to expand beyond South East Queensland in future. The service will provide specialist perinatal and infant mental health services for women and their families across a spectrum of care and treatment options from preconception through to pregnancy, birth and into the postnatal period.

The new service will be available to all mothers, babies and families in need. It will focus on giving families the ‘best possible start’ during the first critical, early years of life and will offer services and care that promote wellness, parental mental health, healthy relationships and child development.

With the support of The Rotary Club Brisbane, the Mater Family Wellbeing Service Best Start Grant has been established to foster research and educational activities that will have an immediate, direct and positive impact on achieving the service’s aims.

Want to find out more about mental health services at Mater? Please visit Mater Mothers’ or Mater Emotional Health Unit websites.

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