More money for maternity services

May 6, 2011

Health Minister Tony Ryall has announced a $54.4 million boost for maternity services and assistance to new mothers.

 “It will mean better teamwork and provide extra help to mothers and babies who need it.

“This Government has invested an extra $1.2 billion in health services over the past two years, and Budget 2011 will provide an extra $33.2 million for maternity services over four years to improve safety and quality.

“A further amount of $21.3 million will boost extra WellChild services, with a particular focus on first time mothers.

“We all want the best possible services to protect the safety of mothers and babies,” Mr Ryall says. “The additional funding will support midwives, nurses and doctors to improve safety and quality in maternity and WellChild services.”

This will extend initiatives the government has already introduced to improve services for mothers and babies. That includes one I feel particularly strongly about, the funding to enable new mothers to stay in maternity centres until breast feeding is established.

The extra funding includes:

$18.4 million to improve the safety and quality of services for mothers and babies, by bringing all local maternity professionals together for regular clinical reviews of all births. This funding will also increase the number of midwives in hospitals, together with medical specialists on-site and on-call.
• $6 million to revamp new parent information services.
• $6.8 million to help vulnerable mothers access a fuller range of health and social services. It will also assist midwives to make appropriate and timely referrals to other practitioners.
• One-off funding of $2 million to ensure all DHB maternity data is collected nationally.

The $21.3 million over four years for additional WellChild visits has a particular focus on the needs of first time mothers.

The additional funding is expected to deliver an extra 54,000 visits to around 18,000 mothers who need this additional support. For these mothers, this will mean, on average, three additional WellChild visits up to the first two months of a baby’s life.

WellChild currently provides two visits during the first two months of life.

“The Government is committed to giving new mums greater support if they need it, Mr Ryall says. “These three additional WellChild visits will ensure a smoother handover from midwives to WellChild providers and an even better start for mothers and their babies.

Additional Wellchild visits will be especially welcome.

New parents often don’t have the support of extended family as they might have in the past. Even if they do, a health professional can give reassurance, help prevent problems and treat those which do arise earlier.

Going into the home allows midwives and Plunket nurses to get a much better idea of how new parents are coping and are better able to identify babies which might be at risk then they could when babies are brought to them for clinic visits.

And because everyone gets Wellchild visits  there is no stigma attached to them as there might be to visits by other agencies like CYFS or a Public Health nurse.

What’s the point of pregnancy? – Updated

April 15, 2009

Our first child was born by emergency ceasarean after the placenta gave way at 34 weeks.

We hadn’t got to unusual events at ante-natal classes so I had no idea how dangerous this was for the baby and me and I had only the vaguest idea about ceasars.

That might have been a good thing because almost everything I read about them after the birth was negative. Women who’d had them had wanted to have “natural” deliveries and because they hadn’t been able to they felt cheated, they felt they’d failed, they felt guilty.

That was 24 years ago and I’d hoped that things might have improved in the interim but today I came across the story of a baby who died  after an unassisted home birth and the Did I cheat . .  . post at The Hand Mirror which in turn reminded me of Plan C,  from last year which included this:

I was very very unhappy with the caesarean black-out the midwife seemed intent on, especially as our ante-natal class facilitator had gone on at some length about the evilness of any intervention in the birth process, practically portraying the various drugs as Death Eaters and casting the C-section as Voldemort himself.

How can anyone who regards themselves as a health professional make a woman feel this way?

And why do women put so much pressure on ourselves and each other to have “natural” deliveries?


 Birth is a natural process but so too is death and you only have to wander round old cemetries with so many graves of young women and their babies to realise what happened when it was all left to nature.


The whole point of being pregnant is to have a healthy baby and if delivering one requires assitance from health professionals, midwives and/or doctors, then we should be grateful they’re available.

Rather than seeing this as a failure we should be thankful that we’re not like women in other times who didn’t have access to modern medical practices,  or those in other countries now who still don’t have the luxury of first world health services.

Every woman is different, every pregnancy is different, every delivery is different. But pregnancy and delivery aren’t competitions and they shouldn’t be political campaigns either.


Hat Tip: Clint Heine  

UPDATE: In light of Sandra’s comment – the baby in the link above didn’t die because it was a home birth, it was because the mother refused any assistanace.


UPDATE 2: Azlemed posts on birth . . . why do women feel like failures.



Bonding a good start

September 18, 2008

The National Party’s plan to offer voluntary bonds  to health professionals in areas which are difficult to staff is a good start.

The policy is to start with doctors, nurses and midwives and extend it to other health professional groups.

I’d like to see it expanded further to cover other professions where there are skills shortages for instance rural vets and engineers.

Helping graduates who are working in specialties or districts with staff shortages is a much better use of tax payers’ money than spending more on undergarduates in any discipline who might not complete their studies and might not stay in New Zealand.

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