Preparing for the changes and challenges of a new baby


About Us

Parent-Infant Research Institute

The Parent-Infant Research Institute (PIRI) a Not-For-Profit organisation is committed to supporting parents and babies (0-24 months), to enhance well-being and children’s healthy development. Parenthood can be more challenging than anticipated, and at our Infant Clinic we encourage parents to nurture themselves and their babies and feel comfortable to ask for professional help in times of stress – from our psychologists, their GPs, and nurses.

PIRI provides a unique contribution to early intervention in Australia by:
Undertaking research that results in evidence-based treatments to improve difficulties facing parents and infants
Provides an experienced team of clinical and academic staff to inform the research, development and application of innovative intervention programs

What's In The Book


This book focuses on the main areas of change encountered by men and women as they make the transition into parenthood. Text and thought provoking exercises prepare the reader for the emotional, social and psychological changes that may arise as they become parents. The focus is on developing both coping skills and parenting skills.

Who is the book for?

This Australian publication is ideal for:
 Expectant parents
 Friends and relatives looking for a useful baby gift
 Health professionals working with expectant and new parents
 Work organizations who value their staff commencing parental leave

How is this book different from all others?

This book was written by a team of psychologists who have a wealth of experience working with families making the transition to parenthood. The topics chosen, the interactive exercises and the use of humour and real life examples make the content not only informative but entertaining.
The focus is not on the physical aspects of the pregnancy, delivery and postpartum but rather more broadly on assisting parents to manage the complex demands of parenthood by developing helpful coping and parenting skills.


The content is designed to improve coping skills and problem solving. Strategies to enhance self-esteem and parenting competency are included. As well as focusing on the impact a baby may have on the couple relationship some strategies to improve communication and reduce conflict are included. Information about the needs and capacities of the newborn help prepare the new parent for what lies ahead and to improve the understanding of baby’s behavioral cues which is helpful for bonding with the baby.




About the Authors

Chapter 1 Towards Motherhood

Chapter 2 towards Fatherhood

Chapter 3 We’re expecting! Preparing for parenthood

Chapter 4 Caring for yourself is caring for your baby

Chapter 5 From lovers to parents: managing relationship changes

Chapter 6 Keeping some balance in your life

Chapter 7 Healthy thinking, healthy self

Chapter 8 Caring for your newborn baby

Chapter 9 Welcome to ‘The Club’!




Prof Jeannette Milgrom

Director, PIRI

Jeannette Milgrom is Professor of Psychology, Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne and Director of Clinical and Health Psychology at Austin Health in Melbourne, Australia. Jeannette pioneered ‘The Infant Clinic’ and in 2001 established the Parent-Infant Research Institute (PIRI) focusing on high-risk infants, ante and postnatal depression, and developing psychological treatments. She has had international recognition for her work with mothers and babies, and her book on treating postnatal depression has been translated into Italian and condensed in French. Her work with postnatal depression has included training of health professionals and delivering public health initiatives. She has an ongoing active research interest through PIRI and is the principal chief investigator on a number of grants including several National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grants. Her work has been recognized with a Medal of the Order of Australia.

Ms Jennie Ericksen

Clinical Psychologist

Jennie Ericksen is a Clinical Psychologist who worked as the Coordinator of the Infant Clinic of the Parent-Infant Research Institute at Austin Health since its inception. She has specialising in working with parents and children during pregnancy and early parenthood in a variety of settings. Her interests include parental mental health, adjustment and the parent child relationship. She has a strong interest in supporting parents making the transition to parenthood and in building capacity in other health professionals to undertake this work. She has contributed to writing and evaluating a number of PIRI interventions and has managed and worked on a number of the Parent-Infant Research Institute research studies while leading a multidisciplinary team of parent-infant specialists. She has published a number of articles and contributed to improving awareness in the media of the needs of mothers, fathers and infants.

Dr Bronwyn Leigh

Clinical and Health Psychologist

Bronwyn Leigh is a clinical and health psychologist who worked at the Infant Clinic and Parent Infant Research Institute for 5 years. Bronwyn’s areas of interest include; adjustment to parenthood, premature birth, perinatal mood disturbance, perinatal loss, the parent infant relationship, infant mental health and maintaining intimacy between couples in the transition to parenthood. She has published in academic journals, presented at conferences and provided media interviews. Bronwyn is experienced in the revision of clinical supervision, training and consultancy. She is currently in private practice working with parents and infants.

Ms Yolanda Romeo

Clinical Psychologist

Yolanda Romeo is a clinical psychologist who worked with infants, children and their families at the Parent-Infant Research Institute at Austin Health for 5 years. She has two Masters Degrees in clinical psychology and child clinical psychology from the University of Melbourne, and has also undertaken further studies in the Graduate Diploma in Parent-Infant Mental Health, also at University of Melbourne. Yolanda has over nine years of experience working in the departments of child and adolescent psychiatry at a number of major hospitals in Melbourne including Austin Health and Monash Medical Centre and is currently in private practice. Her interests include parent-child attachment and relationship problems, the impact of family of origin and trauma issues and postnatal depression.

Ms. Elizabeth Loughlin

Dance Therapist

Elizabeth Loughlin is a professional dance therapist who has worked with mothers and infants in dance in the community, studio and clinical setting for many years. At the Infant Clinic, Parent Infant Research Institute at Austin Health, she offers dance and movement with music as a therapeutic intervention for mothers with postnatal depression and their infants. The aim is to build on the mother's intuitive processes that may have been dampened by postnatal depression and to encourage expressive communication between infant and mother. Elizabeth has published in the area and also teaches about this work at the International Dance Therapy Institute of Australia and creative arts therapies in the University of Melbourne School of Social Work.

Ms. Bella Saunders

Clinical Psychologist

Bella Saunders is a clinical and developmental psychologist who worked at the Infant Clinic, Parent Infant Research Institue at Austin Health for 3 years during the major development of the Toward Parenthood program. She has a strong and continuing interest in working with women with postnatal depression. She has extensive experience working in the areas of child and family issues, across private, government and hospital sectors. She specialises in parenting issues and assessing children's (0-8 years of age) social, emotional and behavioural needs and is currently teaching health professionals.

Ms Rachael McCarthy (1969-2005)

Clinical Psychologist

Rachael McCarthy was a clinical psychologist who worked at the Infant Clinic and Parent-Infant Research Institute for 10 years. Rachael possessed a passionate interest and rare sensitivity in working with mothers, babies and families. Her contribution to this book and to PIRI will not be forgotten and continues to resonate in the lives of all who she worked with.

Ms. Bev Aisbett


Bev Aisbett is the author and illustrator of a number of self-help books for depression, anxiety and panic.


Feedback from women who have completed Towards Parenthood

‘Exploring the expectations, worries and fears of motherhood in the first chapter allowed me to think about some issues.’

‘Reading the first two chapters opened up discussions with my husband.’

‘The problem-solving skills were really useful.’

‘Taking part in the program allowed for reflection on the transition to parenthood and the responsibilities involved.’

‘I found the chapter “From lovers to parents” enhanced communication between me and my partner.’

‘The support services list is a useful resource.’

‘The most helpful aspects of the guidebook for me were the distraction and self-talk techniques.’

‘Understanding the relationship between thoughts, feelings and behaviours using the model was very useful.’

‘Identifying contributors to low mood was something I had not considered.’

‘Recognising passive, aggressive, assertive and indirect communication styles helped me review the way I communicate with others.’

‘The discussion of self-esteem was useful in trying to be a role model to my own children.’

‘I related to the concept of thoughts affecting feelings.’

‘The strategies for increasing positive and decreasing negative thoughts were useful.’

‘I found “Caring for your newborn baby” was the most helpful chapter as it assisted in practical ways.’

‘The final chapter is a great review of the strategies learned in the program.’

‘Overall, the program helped organise my thinking about my baby.’



To purchase your very own copy of Towards Parenthood please contact us on or 03 9496 4496 or via the button below.

ONLY $34.95 including Free Shipping Australia wide!

Any Promo offers will be applied at the next step.


Please contact us in regards to Towards Parenthood via either this form or social media.

Austin Health
Heidelberg, Victoria 3084

+61 3 9496 4496

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PIRI also conducts research to improve our understanding of difficulties in the perinatal period

PIRI is currently conducting the "Beating the Blues before Birth" (BBB) study for depression in pregnancy.
This program is designed to improve your mood and manage the demands of pregnancy.
By joining this study you will be offered either cognitive behavioural therapy for depression (delivered via telehealth) during pregnancy or an assessment with advice about enhanced standard care.
If you would like to take part, press the Join Now button to see if this depression in pregnancy study is suitable for you.


We are able to continue the study through the COVID-19 outbreak. Women in the treatment group will receive 8 CBT sessions via telehealth by PIRI’s psychologists. The study may be suitable for you if you are experiencing depression and anxiety during this challenging time.

  • BBB program has been developed by the Parent-Infant Research Institute as a treatment for depression in pregnancy. This program is based on PIRI’s evaluated treatment for Postnatal Depression and includes features from other PIRI programs. Our recent studies show the effectiveness of BBB in reducing depression and anxiety during pregnancy and in improving child developmental outcomes.

    As part of this depression in pregnancy study you will receive an assessment with a psychologist, and be randomly allocated to one of the following depression treatments:
    BBB program (eight free-of-charge sessions of individual cognitive behavioural therapy, including one couple session)
    Enhanced Standard Care (linkage with your healthcare professional who can provide you with support and treatment).

    The benefits of this program to you and your child will be evaluated.

    At 24 months of age, your child’s development will also be assessed by a trained clinician and you will be provided with a report.


    References: Milgrom, J., Holt, C., Holt, C.J., Ross, J., Ericksen, J., & Gemmill, A. (2015). A Feasibility Study and Pilot Randomised Trial of an Antenatal Depression Treatment with Infant Follow-up. Archives of Women’s Mental Health, 18(5):717-30. Milgrom, J., Holt, C.J., Bleker, L.S., Holt, C., Ross, J., Ericksen, J., Glover, V., O’Donnell, K.J., de Rooij, S. R., & Gemmill , A.W. (2018). Maternal antenatal mood and child development: an exploratory study of treatment effects on child outcomes up to 5 years. Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease.


    Click here to download the Beating the Blues before Birth brochure