When did it become OK to send a mother and her newborn baby home before they are ready for the very important journey ahead of them?
Some might say that it’s not about going home as soon as possible being good or bad, it’s about ensuring women have the best possible ongoing support once they get home.
We would agree. But let’s not ignore those women who don’t have any support at home, who might live in a different city or town from their families, or have no idea about idea about how to start learning the enjoyment of motherhood? And what about those women who just need a loving smile, a caring touch or someone to talk to about the emotions of childbirth?
Becoming a mother or father should be the most exciting time of our lives, but it can also be the most vulnerable, daunting and stressful. There seems to be an unreasonable societal expectation that once a woman has a baby, she is immediately competent and able to be a mother and asking for help is seen as a sign of failure. It’s not.
Mothers Matter are extremely concerned that there is little understanding about the many health and well-being benefits that come from receiving the right postnatal care and support and that there seems to be low awareness that every mother, regardless of the type of birth she has had, is entitled to up to 48 hours of funded, in-patient postnatal care, or more should she need it.
We know that every mother is different, and some mothers will be comfortable going home within the 48-hour period and equally, we know that there are some women who are assertive enough to make sure they get what they are entitled to. But that doesn’t serve those who don’t have the confidence to use their voice.
For mothers, and their families, to be able to make an informed choice about postnatal care, they need to know what their entitlement is and what the health and well-being benefits are that come from receiving postnatal care in a supportive environment and dedicated maternal facility. They need to be empowered to speak out.
There is the saying that it takes a village to raise a child, and we need that village involved and helping out right from the beginning. Collectively, we are all that village, even the Ministry of Health and DHB’s.