In the emotional murkiness of fertility difficulties, pregnancy loss, antenatal and postnatal challenges, and new parenthood, thousands of women and couples have walked through our doors in the past five years, finding light at the end of the tunnel.
Turning five is a milestone in anyone's book. It's a time that has brought reflection and gratitude for the meaningful position we find ourselves in - helping people through one of life's most profound stages. The childbearing years.
As a network of privately practising perinatal psychologists, we came together five years ago to provide a specialised service to people of Victoria who were seeking help specifically for challenges associated with conception, childbearing and child-rearing.
In five years, we have expanded to service 19 Victorian locations so that people can access help without having to travel too far.
We have stayed true to six core values that underlie the trust we have gained from obstetricians, gps, midwives, maternity hospitals and maternal and child health nurses.
APPN's core values
People seeking help need to know that the psychologist is competent - that she/he (I will use "she") is informed of the latest perinatal research and clinical evidence-base, and that she has helped other people with similar presenting problems during pregnancy and/or the postpartum. We stay up to date and active in professional development activities, and coordinate five Perinatal & Infant Mental Health Professionals Networks (Armadale, Kew, Western, Northern and Ballarat) - bringing together multi-disciplinary health practitioners from around Melbourne and Victoria for professional development opportunities.
The psychologist has the qualifications, specific training, and experience to substantiate her expertise in the perinatal field. This is reflected in our criteria for inclusion of psychologists to our service. In addition to our training as psychologists, we educate ourselves in the renowned Circle of Security Parenting training, and have all undertaken specialist training in perinatal loss.
Care and warmth
The psychologist shows a genuine concern about the well-being of clients, helping them to build their confidence and resources for managing the difficulties they face. The psychologist is warm, and easy to engage with.
The psychologist is empathic, kind and non-judgemental, with a deep-seated belief in the human capacity for psychological growth.
The psychologist has the temperament, experience and ability to tolerate and manage big emotions, intense grief, and crisis situations.
The psychologist can be trusted to care responsibly for clients and babies at risk. She communicates well with medical and obstetric practitioners, and has good relationships with maternal & child health nurses to fully support new parents. She works collaboratively with perinatal psychiatrists (knowing when to refer patients to such psychiatrists). She is vigilant about ethics, patient confidentiality, reporting, and follow-up that is in the best interest of the patient.
APPN's support services for new parents and bereaved parents
In addition to the counselling services we offer, we curate two Facebook pages to support both new parents and bereaved parents. These pages can be found here:
Five years on, we thank the obstetric, medical, midwifery, and maternal and child health practitioners who continue to entrust their patients to our service.
Thank you to the wonderful psychologists who work tirelessly to ensure people in need are well-supported and cared for in a timely fashion.
Happy Birthday APPN!
Written by Dr Renée Miller
Principal Clinical Psychologist
Download APPN practitioner list here.
If you are a health professional interested in signing up for one of our Perinatal & Infant MHPNs, please email Amanda Osciak.
Four years ago today, the Antenatal & Postnatal Psychology Network was formed. We began with 5 colleagues with shared backgrounds and a passion for perinatal mental health. It wasn't long before the demand for our service propelled us to join with other respected colleagues in the field. Practising in various locations around Melbourne and Victoria, this expanded collaboration meant that women, men and couples (often with babies in tow) did not need to travel vast distances to find the help they needed.
From there, our Network flourished into what it is today. A service of 16 highly qualified and experienced perinatal clinicians in 18 Melbourne locations (including the Mornington Peninsula and Ballarat). Our psychologists work tirelessly to ensure that clients are seen in a timely fashion with care, compassion, and the expertise this specialised field demands. We stay up to date with ongoing professional development - both teaching and learning, and we share valuable resources that enhance our work with our clients.
We work closely with services that support perinatal clients including Centre of Perinatal Excellence (COPE), PANDA, Sands Australia, and Caring Mums. We also work alongside the Perinatal Psychiatry Network to ensure that the full spectrum of perinatal care is provided.
Needless to say, we LOVE what we do. I feel so grateful to be surrounded by such talented clinicians who together, contribute to a caring and supportive collegial culture, and who share a deep-seated belief in the capacity for human growth.
Thank you to the psychologists in our Network for your commitment and endless enthusiasm. And thank you to the gps, obstetricians, midwives, Maternal & Child Health nurses, and other health professionals who support the emotional health of perinatal patients, and who continue to recommend our service.
Dr Renée Miller
Principal Clinical Psychologist
In an endeavour to improve the mental health of expectant and new parents, perinatal mental health specialists from the Antenatal & Postnatal Psychology Network, and the Perinatal Psychiatry Network, have joined forces to service an expansive spread of Melbourne locations.
We are delighted to be working alongside some of Melbourne's leading Perinatal Psychiatrists. These practitioners are skilled in dealing with specific issues that arise for pregnant and postnatal women and new dads. Women can feel anxious about a current or pre-existing mental health condition in light of planning a pregnancy, being pregnant, or adjusting to the demands of new motherhood. Questions and fears about the safety of medication can elicit significant anxiety, which can be addressed by skilled specialist Psychiatrists. Men can experience anxious apprehension during their partner/wife's pregnancy, and both men and women can experience birth as traumatic. Adjusting to becoming parents can be particularly difficult when a mental health condition is left untreated.
For some people, taking the first step towards seeking help can be daunting. However dealing with stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health disturbances in the childbearing years, can provide an enormous relief for the individual (and his/her partner) and can make for a happier, calmer and more meaningful family life. Ultimately, the emotional well-being of mums and dads is vital to the wellbeing of babies and young children.
Written by Dr Renée Miller
Principal Clinical Psychologist
Antenatal & Postnatal Psychology Network
For enquiries about the Perinatal Psychiatry Network
Dr Klara Szego
Principal Perinatal Psychiatrist
Perinatal Psychiatry Network
Our aim is to provide sound and supportive information related to childbearing and parenting. Dr Renée Miller only selects and shares posts that have an evidence-base or that are psychologically astute and emotionally nourishing. A little humour and some heart-warming stories are shared too.
Topics we have covered include:
- pregnancy and postnatal depression, anxiety & stress
- mental health of dads
- assisted reproduction
- parent-infant bonding
- helping young children with anxiety
- recommended books for children
- parenting during tantrums
- fostering resilience in children
- postnatal psychosis
- teaching children about body safety
- managing tantrums, impulsivity, aggressive behaviour
- special needs parenting
- same sex relationship
- strengthening relationships after baby
- bereaved parents
- donor conception
- sleep difficulties
- managing parental anger
- managing intrusive thoughts
- helping children to express their feelings
- school refusal
- fun activities for young children
- premature birth
- 'good enough' mothering
- managing bed time difficulties
- dealing with infertility
- dealing with mother guilt
- managing sibling rivalry
- setting limits
- helping children through separation and divorce
- dealing with fussy eating
Follow our Facebook page for reliable, quality information you can trust.
Dr Renée Miller (principal psychologist) says, "we are a dedicated network of specialist practitioners, passionate about supporting people through the difficulties that can arise at this profound time in their lives. Most people are aware of postnatal depression, but there is a lot more that brings women (and their partners) to our psychologists."
APPN psychologists support couples experiencing the devastating loss of a much-wanted pregnancy; single women using donor sperm to fall pregnant; couples struggling to conceive - who are dealing with the arduous emotional challenges of assisted fertility or donor conception; couples undergoing the turmoil of deciding whether to proceed with a pregnancy when a fetal diagnosis has been made; women experiencing pregnancy depression, anxiety and stress; gender disappointment; fear of childbirth, traumatic birth and premature birth; new parents feeling overwhelmed, stressed, anxious or depressed; parent-infant bonding difficulties, and a multitude of other issues that arise at this highly vulnerable time in people's lives (up to three years post-birth).
Dr Renée Miller reports, "it's generally women who find us, either through their own internet searches, or by being referred by a caring gp, obstetrician, midwife, or Maternal & Child Health Nurse. However some men contact us when they are concerned about the emotional well-being of their wives or partners. We try to make initial contact as personalised as possible, knowing that women are often distressed or even ashamed to be seeking help. Our psychologists are contactable directly by mobile phone at which point women are tended to with the warmth, care and encouragement that is typical of APPN psychologists."
As the onset of some postnatal disorders (such as postpartum psychosis) can be rapid, APPN psychologists endeavour to triage patients to immediate care by working closely with PANDA counsellors, women's gps, perinatal psychiatrists (psychiatrists who specialise in pregnancy and the postnatal period), and in extreme cases - Crisis Assessment Teams (CAT) - for urgent help in women's homes. For less serious conditions, our wait times are usually within two weeks, due to the number of psychologists and the locations we service.
In addition to the clinical services provided by APPN, Dr Renée Miller personally curates a community Facebook Page that provides women and new parents with sound and supportive information related to childbearing and parenting. "I read through screeds of trite parenting advice on the internet, and select and only share posts that have an evidence-base or that are psychologically astute and emotionally nourishing. The occasional bit of humour is shared too".
"The most rewarding part of what we do is seeing women and couples flourish into better versions of themselves. Finding clarity in what they value; processing and shedding old hurts; re-aligning their expectations into more realistic, more compassionate ones; finding meaning in their day to day lives; communicating better; building confidence in their relationships (particularly with their babies); building confidence in the parenting skills; and learning to live less in the past or imagined future, and more in the present moment. We love what we do and see it as a privilege to play a role in helping our clients thrive."
APPN psychologists can be found at www.antenatalandpostnatalpsychology.com.au
APPN locations - Albert Park, Box Hill, Caulfield North, Hampton, Kew, Newport, Niddrie, North Carlton, Oakleigh, South Yarra, Watsonia, Werribee.
Posted by Dr Renée Miller