Mothers Matter commends the Prime Minister on her commitment to improving intergenerational wellbeing but is calling for an urgent focus on maternal mental health to address inconsistencies in post-natal care.

Mothers Matter spokesperson, specialist obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Anil Sharma, says the postnatal period, especially the first 48 hours are critical to the health and well-being of not only the mother, but also her baby and family.

“While the current policy allows for women to receive up to 48 hours of funded, in-patient dedicated post-natal care, the reality is that the level of postnatal care a woman receives in New Zealand varies depending on where she lives, how busy the hospital is, and what services her local DHB chooses to fund.’

“This amounts to a postcode approach to maternity care, and results in new mothers not receiving the best level of care in those critical 48 hours”

“Birth is the most profound physiological, mental and emotional experience and is therefore a time that deserves the most care. I continue to see and hear about the negative impact early discharge can have on a woman’s health and well-being. Regardless of the type of delivery, the first 48 hours after having a baby are critical for monitoring a new mum and responding to any changes, needs or medical complications that may arise.

“We have a collective responsibility to nurture our families and facilitate the best, most positive and most confident start for a mother, her baby and family. To achieve this, the Government needs to deliver a nationally consistent approach to maternal care.

“Right now, a woman’s choice about her post-natal care is controlled by her DHB’s decision to fund a range of community based options or only their hospital based services, and this can have significant impact on a woman’s maternal mental health and wellbeing.

Neuroscience educator, Nathan Wallis adds that the first 48 hours after birth often sets a pattern of interaction that will serve the child and parent for a lifetime.

“The postnatal period, the first 48 hours after delivery, is about love, interaction and attachment. The more love and interaction a baby experiences in those first few hours, the more developed their brain will be. The love we give, the interaction we have, the unique attachment we form and the stability we provide our children in the postnatal period play a critical role in defining our children’s outcomes and future.

Mothers Matter is requesting the Government establish a ring-fenced national fund, managed by the Ministry of Health to support a mother’s right to receive the clinically and psychologically appropriate amount of time of postnatal care and support at the primary maternity facility of her choice, regardless of the type of birth she has had.


Mothers Matter is about empowering women to make an informed choice about their postnatal care.

© 2018 Mothers Matter NZ