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Dr Grace Branjerdporn is leading an Australian-first project. (The Catholic Leader/Mater)

An online pilot project designed to support new mums with eating disorders is under way at Mater Mothers’ Hospitals in Townsville and South Brisbane. Source: The Catholic Leader.

Dr Grace Branjerdporn is leading the Australian-first project. She is the service development and research team leader at Mater’s Catherine’s House for Mothers, Babies and Families, Queensland’s first and only integrated perinatal mental health care service.

“An eating disorder is a serious mental health condition and having an eating disorder that goes undetected and unsupported in pregnancy may result in complications for a mother and baby,” Dr Branjerdporn said.

She said eating disorder signs could manifest as normal symptoms of pregnancy, such as nausea, vomiting or changes in appetite.

The project’s modules are aimed at those working with mothers before, during and after birth, described as high risk times for developing an eating disorder.

They cover how these eating disorders can present, including psychologically, physically and behaviourally.

“(The project) is a co-designed study and will help health professionals better detect eating disorders,” Dr Branjerdporn said.

“It is important to recognise that a patient with an eating disorder might not look like they have one. Some feel a lot of shame around their eating disorder history and don’t want to raise it themselves.” 

Mater’s Ambulatory and Birthing assistant director for clinical services Kathleen Goldsmith participated in the online modules.

She said their use of videos featuring women with lived experiences put real-life situations into perspective.

“Having the skillset to identify eating disorders in women, no matter what age, will ensure access to care and support is provided,” Ms Goldsmith said.

There are plans to expand the project and trial the study at all Mater Mothers’ hospitals across Queensland.


New Mater Mothers’ project to help mums with eating disorders (By Michael Howard, The Catholic Leader)