National MP Louise Upston has a Member’s Bill to support new mothers:
“The first few days after giving birth are some of the most important, but can also be the most challenging for new mums.
“National is proposing that new mums should be entitled to three days of care after giving birth, and that support should be available after each child.
“At the moment, new mothers have 48 hours of care funded by DHBs, but we know that they’re often encouraged to leave as soon as possible. This sort of pressure can cause additional stress in what is already a stressful time.
Many aren’t just encouraged to leave, they’re told they have to leave and often just an hour or so after their baby is delivered.
That’s not always optimal for those with support from husbands, wider family and/or friends at home and it can be difficult at best for those without support.
“During the first few days after birth we know mothers can experience the baby blues, have difficulty breast feeding, can be exhausted and sometimes just need a bit of extra help while they build up confidence.
“We believe mums should have a choice in the kind of care that they opt for, whether that’s in a hospital or at a community or private facility. We would make community care available to all women, no matter where they choose to give birth.
“This policy will cost an additional $16-$20 million. It would also be ring-fenced, meaning if one mother only requires one day in care, her additional two days would be used for another mum who might need a five day stay and the money can’t be put into other areas by DHBs.
Not all mothers will need or choose to stay for three days, some will need more. Ring fencing will give birthing centres the funds to provide that extra care when it’s needed.
“National believes the first thousand days are the most important in a child’s life. We will do all that we can so kids get off to a good start and make sure their parents are supported.”
National went into the 2008 election with a promise to fund maternity services to allow mothers to stay in birthing centres until breast feeding was established should they choose to.
It came from a policy I’d pitched at the party’s Southern regional conference that was received so enthusiastically I was asked to present it to the national conference.
When I got down from the stage Nick Smith told me that sometimes good policy is bad politics and bad policy is good politics but this was good policy and good politics.
National did provide funding for the policy in its first Budget after the 2008 election but sometime between then and now the funding evaporated.
I’m delighted that this Bill will, if it’s passed, reinstate the funding.
The science is clear, breastfeeding is best for mothers and babies, if mothers are willing and able to do it.
The willingness and ability are much more likely in a birthing centre with professional help on-hand than at home with limited if any assistance.
An extra day or two of postnatal care could make a huge difference to the mental and physical health of the mother and consequently the wellbeing of the baby.