Mums needed for early motherhood online self-care study

New mums can access free online self-care resources to help them cope with the challenges of motherhood, as part of an ongoing research trial by The University of Queensland.

The program is investigating better ways to care for the psychological wellbeing of mothers, particularly in supporting mothers to cope with difficult thoughts and feelings about their childbirth and early feeding experiences.

UQ’s Faculty of Medicine researcher and clinical psychologist Dr Koa Whittingham is coordinating the next stage of project with Master of Clinical Psychology student Laynee Brophy.

“Motherhood can be a difficult and intense time as new mums learn to adjust and cope, and these online resources, which can be accessed at home, tackle so many of the issues they face,” Dr Whittingham said.

“The team is keen to build upon our previous research in self-compassion, and we’re now looking to test new resources which focus on self-care through living meaningfully.

“This means having a strong sense of what really matters to you personally and finding ways to translate that into action.

“Living meaningfully can include the big stuff like core parenting choices, as well as small everyday details like remembering to put on your favourite music or going for a walk in the park.

“To make the research representative, we’d like to hear from all mothers, regardless of whether they are experiencing difficulties or not.”

All participants will complete two online surveys, eight weeks apart, which will allow the researchers to pinpoint exactly what effect the resources are having on mothers’ wellbeing.

Participants will receive reminders via SMS to help them get the most out of the resources which can be accessed multiple times throughout the study and six months after its conclusion.

This study builds on a previous Australia-wide research trial which showed simple online resources promoting self-compassion make a positive difference to mothers of babies.

Dr Amy Mitchell from UQ’s School of Psychology and Griffith University’s School of Nursing and Midwiferysaid mothers from previous trials reported fewer depressive and traumatic symptoms in the two years after their baby’s birth.

“Importantly, mothers also found it easier to accept compassion from people around them, as well as to show compassion to themselves in little ways,” Dr Mitchell said.

“We know mums tend to put themselves last and feel they have to struggle on alone and that just doesn’t work.”

After registering and completing an online survey, participants will have a 50 per cent chance of being randomly assigned to receive immediate access to the online resources.

The rest of the participants will receive access to the resources after eight-weeks.

Participants must be over 18, be living in Australia or New Zealand, and have given birth in the last two years.

For more information and participation details visit the project website.