Health Minister Tony Ryall has delivered on his election promise of extra funding for maternity services.
The extra $103.5 million over four years is to fund:
* Longer stays for new mothers in birthing facilities
* An optional meeting each trimester for at risk mothers, attended by the pregnant woman, their GP, and their lead maternity carer (usually a midwife)
*Obstetric training or refreshers for GPs wishing to return to maternity care
* Meeting the costs from the increase in the number of births each year, and
* Fully funding the Plunketline 24 hour telephone advice service – as previously announced.
I’m especially pleased about the longer stays in birthing centres because I put this forward when members were invited to Pitch a Policy at National Party regional conferences. I was then asked to put it to the national conference where it was greeted with enthusiasm and passed on to the health policy advisory group.
I explained my reasoning in a post last year . My major concern was to stop new mothers being sent home before they had established breast feeding.
When I had my children it was normal for mothers who chose to do so to stay in maternity for about five days after an uncomplicated delivery and up to 10 days after a caesarean. The major benefit of this was that there was on the spot assistance if they had difficulty getting their babies to feed.
Stays have got shorter and in recent years. Some mothers have been discharged within a few hours of delivery and most within a day or two, before their milk comes in.
The extra funding should enable many more mothers to stay long enough to establish feeding.
P.S. Good to see the media release making it quite clear the Plunketline funding had already been announced and not pretending this was a new initiative as the previous administration used to.