Support for parents after birth

There has been an increase in awareness over the recent years that pre-natal and early infancy is a sensitive developmental phase. As such, it is well understood by professionals in the infant mental health field that early intervention or prevention at this early stage is of great importance for bonding and attachment.

As an Infant Mental Health practitioner, one of the central mandates is to support the early relationship between caregivers and their babies, and to prevent risk factors such as early trauma, marriage difficulties or depression in mothers from negatively impacting on the short and long-term outcomes for that mother and child.

What is Parent-Infant therapy?

Parent-infant psychotherapy (PIP) is one such psychological intervention aimed at facilitating secure and strong attachments between caregivers and their babies. By caregivers we mean parents (including fathers and mothers), grandparents or caregivers in children’s homes. PIP sessions are offered week with a trained psychologist, in order to support you in your parenthood, and help you to think about your unique baby.

The Signs

Below is a table that lists a few of the risk factors that may lead to a mother, father or baby that is struggling to manage with difficult feelings or experiences.

At-risk parents

  • Post-natal depression (PND)

  • DisabilityDisability

  • Unplanned pregnancy

  • Lack of social support

  • Childhood abuse

  • Recent loss of a loved one

  • Previous stillbirths/miscarriages

  • Difficulty bonding with baby

  • Marriage difficulties

  • History of mental difficulties

At-risk babies

  • A traumatic /difficult birth

  • Sleeping or feeding difficulties

  • Disability

  • Stress signals such as avoiding eye contact with mom or dad, colour change, being easily startled etc.

  • Low birth weight

  • Failure to thrive

  • Recurring health difficulties (e.g.: rashes, diarrhoea…)

If any of these symptoms seem to describe you or your baby, please do not hesitate to contact Marilise Nel (psychologistnel [at] for further assistance or an appropriate referral. ng mothers bond with babies