A tribute to 100 years of maternal child health nursing has been put on exhibition at Ballarat Library.
Long-serving nurse Lyn Hedger has collected photos, significant items and information on the program’s history.
The city’s maternal child health program first started in 1923, following the successful implementation of the program in other municipalities in 1917.
It aimed to reduce infant mortality rates and assess the health of newborns.
The exhibition details the progression of maternal child health, from focusing on baby health, to developmental monitoring and the health of the mother.
Mrs Ledger said the program was markedly different from its 1917 roots, so she wanted to show people the changes that had occurred since its creation.
“It started because babies were dying literally, in 1917,” she said.
“Particularly in the summer time, because there was no refrigeration for milk.”
“Things like hygiene are not really an issue now – there is a lot of developmental work done instead.”
The nurses used to work in centres where women would come and patiently wait their turn, however now home visits are made following the birth of every Ballarat child, to bring new mothers into the program.
About 8300 children benefit from the care of maternal child health nurses every year in Ballarat, including about 1350 new babies.
However the mothers have also been benefiting more as the nurses focus on assisting people with post-natal depression.
Mrs Ledger said the nurses now made 10 key visits to help track the progress of the child and their mothers.
“Family violence and mental health issues, which are more openly discussed, have a greater focus,” she said.
“Post-natal depression as well – we have been far more aware of the whole family.”
The rising profile of family violence have also
Ballarat City Council will also expand its services to two new centres at the Lucas Community Hub and Bonshaw Early Learning Centre.
The city enrols about about 530 first-time parents every year.
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