Being pregnant and about to become a parent can be as challenging as it can be wonderful, and can result in a range of emotions from shock and excitement, through to fear and anxiety.

During this time, it is therefore important for you and your family to know how and where to access education, information and support in the community to help you manage any questions or issues you are facing.

Your doctor or midwife should be your primary source of information, but there are a host of other support mechanisms, associations and classes around that can help you on your journey to parenthood.

Pay attention

It is extremely important to pay attention to your mental health and emotional wellbeing during pregnancy and early parenthood. Expectant mothers and new parents are often more vulnerable to stress and managing this stress is far easier when you feel happy in your relationships and are generally content.

Where to turn

If you are feeling overwhelmed or frightened, talk to someone. Opening up about your feelings will help to lift the burden and if you feel as though it is becoming too much to handle on your own, organisations such as Beyond Blue are there to offer support.

There are also a host of free help lines that have been set up to enable parents, throughout any stage of pregnancy or parenthood, to speak with trained counsellors, registered nurses or other trained professionals.

13 HEALTH—phone 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) to speak to a child health nurse. The service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the cost of a local call.

Pregnancy, Birth and Baby Helpline—phone 1800 882 436 to speak with a trained counsellor. The service is free (charges may apply from your mobile).

Post and Antenatal Depression Association (PANDA)—contact PANDA on 1300 726 306 if you or your partner are feeling depressed or anxious during your pregnancy. This confidential service is available from Monday to Friday, 9am–7pm.

MensLine Australia—phone 1300 789 978 if you’re male and have family and relationship concerns. The helpline is available 24 hours a day.

Lifeline—phone 13 11 14 (24 hours a day) if you are experiencing a personal crisis.

Pregnancy, Birth and Baby Helpline—phone 1800 822 436 to speak to a trained counsellor about the first year of your child’s life.

Breastfeeding Helpline: 1800 686 268 for advice from trained counsellors.

Parentline: 1300 30 1300 for advice and counselling about any issue that affects you as a parent.

Ask for help

Once your baby has arrived you will no doubt have plenty of burning questions and will be craving a helping hand with things like breastfeeding.

Of course, you can seek support through your doctor and midwife, otherwise the Australian Breastfeeding Association is a great ‘mother-to-mother’ support initiative with more than 250 operating throughout Australia. You can chat to mothers who have ‘been there’ and get tried and tested hints and tips, as well as the opportunity to speak to a trained, volunteer breastfeeding counsellor if needed.

Overall, if you are feeling you need support don’t struggle on your own there are a lot of great organisations out there that can assist.