What I would rather receive as a government 'push present'

Over the weekend, the NSW government announced they would give the parents of every new child born in NSW a loot bag worth $150, at a cost of $13.5 million each year.

The "baby bundles", modelled on the baby boxes given to new parents in Finland, will contain items such as breast pads, nappy rash cream, a few nappies and a change mat.

Over the weekend, the NSW government announced that they would give the parents of every new child born in NSW a loot bag worth $150.

Over the weekend, the NSW government announced that they would give the parents of every new child born in NSW a loot bag worth $150.

Now, I love a showbag as much as the next guy, and parents getting their own instead of having to steal a chocolate or two from their kids’ Bertie Beetle bag while they’re not looking is a nice change.

But if the government really wants to give NSW women a push present, maybe they should think about what parents really need in those first few months of parenthood.

As someone who had a baby 10 weeks ago, here are just a few things I’d rather have than a few nappies, books and a sleeping bag.

I’d love enough funding for early childhood health centres so they can run groups for any parent with a new baby, not just first-time parents. We are just as isolated and bloody clueless as we were the first time, but I can no longer count on the support of people going through the same thing every Tuesday at 11am.

I’d love a counselling session for every new parent – mums and dads – in the first three months following birth. Postnatal depression and anxiety (PNDA) affects more than one in seven mums and about one in ten dads. A convenient session at your local early childhood health centre, without the fuss of a GP referral, would be an awesome early intervention for those of us who may experience PNDA. And, let’s face it, there’s not a parent on the planet who wouldn’t benefit from a counselling session: when you’re sleep deprived and waist-deep in nappies, breastmilk and bottles, in addition to trying desperately to get your baby to read the baby book so she realises she’s supposed to feed, then play, then sleep (for more than 15 minutes at a time), you’re not okay. A little help finding some strategies to manage your mental health would be a gift to both parents and their children.

Or how about a couple of hours with a mothercraft nurse? One who comes to your home and shows you strategies for feeding, settling and sleeping. They’re worth their weight in gold (I was ready to propose to the one I saw).

Or a couple of physio sessions for mum so she can get her pelvic floor back to a state where she won’t wee herself every time she laughs too hard or jumps on the trampoline with the kids? Or vouchers for occasional care or babysitters so mum and dad might actually be able to leave their little cherub for a few hours and remember they’re people as well as parents?

And there’s always lobbying the federal government for decent paid parental leave for all parents. That’d be good.

These are just a few things I can think of while juggling a rambunctious two-year-old and a ten-week-old, after not sleeping more than a few hours at a time for months. With a full night’s sleep and a parliamentary salary, just imagine all the things you could think of to give new parents that would be a lot more useful than some flipping breast pads and hand sanitiser.

But, if your goal is to spend $150 on giving new parents something they don’t need, then make it a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Vintage, please. At least that way we can enjoy it.

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