National Party proposal guarantees postnatal facility for new mothers

National Party proposal guarantees postnatal facility for new mothers
Dr Parmjeet Parmar

Wellington, August 15, 2019

Most people don’t know that new mums are entitled to 48 hours of care in a postnatal facility, and doctors and midwives aren’t obliged to tell them, which means that thousands of mums miss out on having the level of postnatal care that they might want.

That was why my colleague, Louise Upston, has proposed a solution that would help to alleviate some of the problems that new mums face.

Right to be informed

Her Bill would guarantee every new mother a minimum of 72 hours in a postnatal facility. Not only that, but lead maternity carers including  doctors and midwives would be obliged to tell them about it.

What’s also important about this is that the funding would be ringfenced so DHBs couldn’t spend it on anything else. This would mean that every mother who wanted to stay for the full three days, could.

National believes that new mums should be supported and have more choices in their postnatal care. Giving them the option of staying for three days would mean that they could stay if they needed, or leave earlier if they felt confident and able to do so.

There are some mums who will need to stay longer, as they do now, if they have had a caesarean or had complications. We would make sure that longer stays are available where there is an additional need.

Ringfenced funding

This dedicated funding would be ringfenced and could only be used for postnatal care, so the money not used by mums who left early would stay in the pot for those mums who need to stay a bit longer.

Around 60,000 babies are born in New Zealand every year; that is 165 on average each day.

That’s a lot of new mums and babies. Giving them the right support ensures that Kiwi children get the best start to their lives.

Hospitals are busy, and it’s easy for new mums to be pressured into leaving hospital early. Many mums give birth in the morning and are home by lunchtime if they are perceived to be low-risk.

For mums who live rurally, this can mean a drive home that’s two hours or more.

Difficult for fathers too

It is hard on dads too, adjusting to new parenthood in such a rush.

‘Low-risk’ mums can face life-threatening medical emergencies in the hours after birth, and so can new- born babies.

Longer stays support the whole family as they begin life with their new baby.

There are any number of things that can go wrong, and pressuring new mums into going home before they’re ready can just compound these issues.

The first thousand days are the most important in a child’s life. After nine months of pregnancy, ensuring that birth and postnatal care go as smoothly as possible is vital.

For new mums, having a bit of extra support in their postnatal care could be the thing that makes all the difference as they navigate raising their new baby.

And that’s what National supports: giving people choices so they can do what’s best for them and their families.

Our bottom line is you.

Dr Parmjeet Parmar has been a Member of Parliament on National List since 2014. She is the Party’s Spokesperson for Research, Science and Innovation, and Associate Spokesperson for Economic Development. She is also the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Education and Workforce.

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