Child Health: From little things, big things grow

Being a parent is the best and most rewarding job in the world, but no one said it was easy.

Parenting is having your heart and soul on the outside of your body and questioning every decision your brain makes several times over.

Fortunately help is only an appointment away with the team at West Moreton Child Health service which is celebrating a state-wide milestone of 100 years of Child Health in Queensland.

Naomi Gilbert, whose first child Mia was born in February, is the second generation in her family to receive support from the same nurse as a new parent.

Mrs Gilbert said she was amazed to discover the same clinical nurse, Charmaine Stevens, who had weighed and assessed her as a baby was now helping care for her own daughter 28 years later.

Mrs Gilbert’s mum Leanne Eastell took both her daughters to the Child Health team as a young mum in the late 80s and 90s and the enduring family relationship with Mrs Stevens was discovered after the proud grandmother retrieved her daughter’s child health record book to compare with baby Mia’s book.

“I took my own health record book from when I was a baby in to show Charmaine Stevens and she started flicking through and said, ‘that’s my writing – I saw you as a baby!’,” Mrs Gilbert said.

Mrs Gilbert said she was grateful for the immense support of the Child Health nurses, as well as her primary support crew ,husband Ben, sister Sam, and her mother, as she adjusted to parenthood.

“Don’t be shy to ask any question that may be on your mind,’’ she advised other new mums.

“Whether you think it is silly or not, there is no judgement from the nurses, and it’s nice to have that reassurance even if nothing is wrong.

“I have come to the realisation that no baby is the same as any other baby so what works for me won’t necessarily work for someone else, and vice versa.’’

Home visits by the Child Health team in the past year

Clinic appointments for the past year

Drop-in clinics for the past year

Clinical nurse Charmaine Stevens, who has worked at West Moreton Health for almost 40 years, is something of a guru within Child Health, having cared for hundreds of West Moreton children during her career.

She is one of the experienced nurses that parents can turn to for guidance and friendly reassurance to discuss everything from growth and development to sleep challenges and behaviours in children 0-4 years during regular health checks.

“It is a privilege to watch them grow and achieve, and be part of those special moments with families, babies and children,’’ Mrs Stevens said.

Mrs Stevens said a charge nurse that she once worked for instilled in her the importance of acknowledging the hard work – and the good work – that parents accomplish, despite the worries and doubt that may plague them.

“She said our role is to make sure mothers hear at least one positive thing that they are doing before they leave their appointment,” Mrs Stevens said.

“Motherhood and fatherhood would have to be the toughest role. It is one of the most rewarding roles but also often the most thankless and unrecognised.

“Parents are not alone. Whether they are reaching out to our Child Health services or another community group, support is available and people do not need to feel alone.’’

To contact the Child Health team phone Ipswich Health Plaza: 3817 2340.

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