Becoming a parent for the first time filled Sashie Howpage with a joy she had never known before.
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But the perinatal stage after having her son Rohan was not without hardship.
Ms Howpage is open about saying she saw a psychologist after having a baby. She had lymphoma in her early 20s and said having a baby brought back worries about mortality.
"There was a somewhat unexpected resurgence of those fears, bought into the world just by having someone so beautiful and vulnerable completely reliant on you and realising you're lucky if you get to old age," she said.
But the Dubbo mother and health worker said talking to a psychologist helped her to normalise the "thousands of questions and self-doubt" she had as a first-time mother. It allowed her to acknowledge where the anxieties were coming from and then make changes and set goals that were small and achievable.
The annual week also aims to raise awareness and provide information for new parents.
One in five mums, and one in 10 dads or non-birthing partners experience perinatal anxiety and/or depression.
"Cumulative sleep deprivation really affects your mental state because you actually lose your problem solving skills a little bit. You lose your emotional reserve and sometimes you can't see the wood for the trees," Ms Howpage said.
"Actually the fact you have to do a third load of laundry is not the biggest drama of the day but it can feel like that."
She recalls silly things like getting the bath water to the right temperature becoming bigger issues than they needed to be.
With grandparents in other cities and close friends going through a similar experience in Sydney, Ms Howpage said it was also an isolating time. However, with that came the strength of having to rely on your little family unit and learning to trust your gut.
It's one of the big pieces of advice Ms Howpage has for any new parents, or parents-to-be.
Two of her biggest challenges were around Rohan's sleep, or more accurately the lack thereof, and having trouble with breastfeeding.
She said there were times when well-meaning friends, family, social media and even health professionals were offering advice and while the intention was positive, often it could be overwhelming.
"When you have learned nurses who have say 40 or 50 years of clinical experience it's very hard to say 'well maybe it's not the correct advice for my baby'. Finding you own voice as a mother and trusting your own gut and instinct is actually very hard as a first time mother," she said.
"A large part of that first year of parenting and finding your feet as parents is actually finding a place where both parents are happy and enjoying the baby, and not being distressed by whatever the baby should be doing or wasn't doing and just enjoying them as they are."
Ms Howpage said it needed to be acknowledged that being a mother was "incredibly exhausting and tiring and a lot of the work you do will be unseen or feel invisible".
"But it's also filled with joy in a part of your heart you never knew existed. Don't let the stress of raising a child take away from that joy and sharing it with those who are important to you," she said.
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