Maternal and Child Health (MCH) is a free voluntary service and it is available to families of children from birth to school age. MCH has support available relating to health and safety, parenting, development, and growth. We want to help you get the support and information you need to keep you and your child happy, safe and healthy from birth.
We operate Monday to Friday and once a month on a Saturday from two of our centres.
Support our MCH service can provide
Our Maternal and Child Health (MCH) service can provide support with:
- regular visits to see a Maternal and Child Health Nurse
- understanding your baby
- breastfeeding support
- new parent groups
- child health and development
- maternal/paternal emotional and physical health
- parent-child relationships
- home and car safety for infants
- child accident and injury prevention
- family planning
- referrals to local support services and other health agencies
Our MCH service offers 10 free visits with a nurse to review your child's health, growth and development at key ages and stages.
Key ages and stages
We recommend that you visit us for assessment at each of the following stages in your child’s life. The links below will take you to the Victorian Government's Better Health website where there is more information on each key stage. These stages are:
Your first contact with Maternal Child Health (MCH)
The hospital where you have your baby will let us know when you give birth. They will pass on your contact details and you will be paired with a MCH nurse in your area. Within a week of returning from the hospital, your MCH nurse will contact you. You can then arrange a time for your nurse to visit you at home, and for you to visit the MCH centre.
During this initial consultation, a friendly MCH nurse will discuss the next steps and future appointments. It is a great opportunity to ask any questions that may be relevant to you or your baby.
You must bring your My Health, Learning and Development Record to every appointment
The hospital where your baby was born will provide you with a My Health, Learning and Development Record. You might know this as your Child Health Record or the ‘green book’. At each appointment, your nurse will record your child’s milestones. Health, growth, development and immunisations are recorded in this book, which is why it’s important to bring it to each appointment. You can learn more about immunisation on our Immunisation page.
There are 16 MCH centres located in Merri-bek. The centres are staffed by nurses with general nursing midwifery and maternal and child health nursing qualifications. The centre that you will visit for your appointments will depend on which one is closest to where you live. Find your nearest MCH centre by suburb below.
Coburg Maternal and Child Health Centre
Coburg Children's Centre, 1 Wardens Walk, Coburg
Phone: 9240 1111
Merri-bek Maternal and Child Health Centre
32 The Avenue, Coburg
Phone: 9240 1111
Newlands Maternal and Child Health Centre
20 Murray Road, Coburg
Phone: 9240 1111
Merlynston Maternal and Child Health Centre
Bain Reserve, Merlyn Street, Coburg North
Phone: 9240 1111
Gowanbrae Maternal and Child Health Centre
2a Marigold Crescent, Gowanbrae
Phone: 9240 1111
Hadfield Maternal and Child Health Centre
Volga Street, Hadfield
Phone: 9240 1111
How to contact Maternal Child Health services
We will reach out to you after your baby is born. However, you can contact us whenever you like, either by phoning 9240 1111 and selecting 2 when prompted or by emailing MCHAppointments@merri-bek.vic.gov.au to reach the MCH team.
Contact the MCH Service if you:
- have not been contacted by your nurse within a week of coming home
- are having problems
- are new to the Merri-bek area, or
- would like to make an appointment
You can request an MCH appointment online by filling out the form on our Making an appointment to see a Maternal and Child Health nurse page.
Contact the Maternal and Child Health Hotline 24/7
You can also contact the Maternal and Child Health Hotline to speak to someone from our Maternal and Child Health services. This is a telephone service that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for Victorian families with children from birth to school age.
The phone number for the Maternal and Child Health Hotline is 13 22 29.
This service is part of the Victorian Maternal and Child Health Service and is fully funded by the State Government.
The Maternal and Child Health Hotline is staffed by qualified maternal and child health nurses who provide information, support and guidance on:
- child health
- sleep and settling
- maternal and child health
All calls to the line are anonymous.
The service is able to connect culturally and linguistically diverse speaking callers to female interpreters from the Translating Interpreter Service.
It is also available to hearing or speech impaired callers who have access to the National Relay Service (NRS).
Update to breastfeeding support: sessions will now be by appointment only.
Appointments are available at:
- Merlynston (Bain Reserve, Merlyn Street, Coburg North) on Mondays between 9am and 3pm
- Coburg (Coburg Children's Centre, 1 Wardens Walk, Coburg) on Wednesdays between 9am and 3pm
To book an appointment call us on 9240 1111 and select option 2.
We offer free breastfeeding and formula support and information to parents. When your MCH nurse visits you and your baby in your home after birth, you will have the opportunity to get individualised support with breastfeeding and talk to your nurse about any issues you are having.
Our nurses have experience in providing advice and support with breast and formula feeding. Some of our nurses have also completed International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) training.
For further information, contact our team by calling by calling 9240 1111 and selecting option 2. You are welcome to contact us any time for further breastfeeding and formula support.
New parent groups are a great way to meet other parents in your area, share experiences and make new friends.
Becoming a first time parent can be an overwhelming and isolating experience. Attending a weekly new parent group session is a great opportunity to talk to other parents or to just listen to others share their stories.
It is also a way to develop a support network, learn different ways of parenting and discuss options for child care.
If you are a first time parent, your Maternal and Child Health Nurse will invite you to attend a new parent group session.
At this session, you can chat with other parents about adjusting to being a parent, child development, sleep and settling, safety and baby massage.
These sessions happen at your MCH centre. After this first session, you and the other parents can choose to continue meeting at a different location or to form a playgroup. You can find out more about forming a playground on our Playgroups in Merri-bek page.
Your nurse will also let you know about any specialist parent groups in your area. For example, groups for twins, premature babies or culturally and linguistically diverse families.
We also offer groups just for dads to get support and help. Together with an organisation called Dads Groups, we run these groups at different locations across Merri-bek. Find out more on the Dads Group website.
At a Dads Group session, dads can get support, share and learn, and connect with other dads who live in the area.
You can get involved with the following Dads Groups through their Facebook groups:
- Dads of Merri-bek Facebook group
- Dads of Coburg Facebook group
- Dads of Fawkner Facebook group
- Dads of Glenroy Facebook group
- Dads of West Brunswick Facebook group
Our Resources for Dads booklet provides some useful links to information and support services that you may like to use in your parenting journey.
Relatewell (also called the Family Relationships Institute Inc.) is a not-for-profit community organisation that provides counselling, marriage, relationship and parenting psychoeducational services. Relatewell is a leader in primary prevention, early intervention, treatment and recovery. Relatewell aims to support individuals, couples and families in navigating life’s significant events.
We partner with Relatewell so that they can provide counselling services to our parents and families who use the MCH service. You can learn more about this partnership and their services on the RelateWell website.
Sessions are broken up into 4 age groups:
- Newborn Sessions for 0 to 3 month olds
- Newborn Sessions for 3 to 6 month olds
- Baby Sessions for 6 to 12 month olds
- Toddler Sessions for 12 month olds and older
These sessions, delivered by a Maternal and Child Health (MCH) nurse, will provide an understanding of baby sleep cycles and help identifying sleep needs and tired signs. Parents and carers will learn tips and strategies to promote positive sleep patterns appropriate for the different stages of their baby’s development.
To find out the upcoming dates for our Sleep and Settling Sessions, read ourSleep and Settling Session Calendar November - December 2022 (PDF).
You can learn more about immunisation on our Immunisation page.