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Raising a child when your family is overseas

4-minute read

Becoming a new parent can be challenging when you’re living far away from your loved ones. But there are many ways to find support and advice if you are in Australia and your family is overseas.

When you first migrate to Australia, everything can seem different. The language may be different, and you may have no friends or family nearby. In time, most people who migrate to Australia settle well and start to feel they belong.

Having a baby and raising young children challenging for anyone, particularly if your family is far away. As a new mother, you may have trouble accessing the health system and understanding birth services in Australia. You might also be at risk of postnatal depression and need additional support.

Having a baby

It is very important to find support just after you’ve had a baby. Having a newborn can be overwhelming when it’s just you and your partner — or if it's just you. But there is plenty of support available for new mothers.

Hospitals can arrange for a maternal and child health nurse to visit you at home several times. You can talk to them about how you feel, as well as about your baby.

You can also get support from your local early childhood centre. Maternal and child health nurses can help you with breastfeeding, getting your baby to sleep and other aspects of baby care. They can also put you in touch with groups for new mothers.

Speak to your doctor. Forming a trusting relationship with your local doctor is the best way to look after your health and your family’s health. Your doctor can also put you in touch with other services in your area.

Without the support of your wider family, you may worry about who is going to look after the baby if you need to go back to work. There is a wide range of child care options in Australia and you may be eligible for help with fees. The childcare finder website will help you find what is available in your area.

There are also things you can do to involve relatives living overseas in your family life, and to get support from them at a distance.

Pregnancy, Birth and Baby offers support and advice on everything to do with having a baby. You can call experts to ask the questions you might normally ask your family about how you feel when you’re pregnant, and worries or questions about your baby, feeding and sleeping. Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436 for support and advice. You can use the Translating and Interpreting Service to call.

Finding support

There are many ways to meet other mothers and families in the same situation as you. For example:

  • Join a new mothers’ group — the early childhood health centre can put you in touch.
  • Join a playgroup, or enrol your child in swimming lessons or a baby gym. Your local council will have information on children’s activities that are available in your area.
  • Visit the local library — many libraries offer activities for children and mothers, such as music sessions and storytelling. They often provide information in different languages about things to do in your area.
  • Be active in the community. Volunteer or get involved at your local church, mosque or other place of worship, join the school community and meet other families.
  • Use social media. 'Mum' and 'dad' networks on Facebook are full of tips and advice. You can discuss any concerns about your baby and you can make friends too.
  • Create routine. You can develop your own family routines that will help your children to feel like they belong.
  • Find your local migrant resource centre. These centres, found in many towns and cities, help newly arrived migrants and refugees to settle. They will be able to advise you on the best places to make friends with other families in your situation.

Adjusting to a new country - video

Video provided by Raising Children Network.

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Last reviewed: January 2019

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The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

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