Becoming a new mum is one of life’s most amazing experiences. And for dads too – I remember how excited I was when my children were born. While it is such a special time, it’s also overwhelming and sometimes a bit frightening.
With so much to learn, new mothers need support. Whether it’s feeling confident with breast feeding, knowing the best way to hold the baby or getting a bit of help when it comes to changing nappies, help is vital. That’s why new mothers often say they wish they’d had a longer stay in hospital.
Most people don’t know that new mothers are entitled to 48 hours of care in a postnatal facility, and doctors and midwives aren’t obliged to tell them, so thousands of mums miss out on having the level of postnatal care that they might want.
National believes that new mums should be supported and have more choices in their postnatal care. That’s why my neighbouring MP, Louise Upston, has proposed a member’s bill to guarantee every new mother a minimum of 72 hours in a postnatal facility. Not only that, but lead maternity carers - doctors and midwives - would be obliged to tell them about it.
This dedicated funding could only be used for postnatal care, so every mother who wanted to stay for the full three days, could, and the money not used by women who felt confident and able to leave early would stay in the pot for those who needed to stay longer.
There are some mums who will need to stay longer, as they do now, if they have had a caesarean delivery or experienced complications. We would make sure that longer stays are available where there is an additional need.
Around 60,000 babies are born in New Zealand every year. That’s a lot of new mothers and babies. Giving them the right support ensures that children get the best start in life.
Hospitals are busy, and it’s easy for new mums to be pressured into leaving hospital early. Many women give birth in the morning and are home by lunchtime if they’re perceived to be low-risk.
It’s hard on fathers 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-borns.
The first thousand days are the most important in a child’s life. 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.