Updated: May 29, 2019

Mothers Matter, a new campaign launched today, aims to empower all women and their families to make an informed choice about their postnatal care.

Led by a group of committed individuals, health professionals and parents, the Mothers Matter campaign puts a spotlight on the health and well-being benefits that come from receiving the right postnatal care and a women’s entitlement to receive up to 48 hours, funded in-patient postnatal care, regardless of where she lives or what type of birth she has had.

Having the right information about her postnatal care entitlement was something Auckland mother Ellen Chisholm wished she had known before she had her first baby.

“I really wish I had understood exactly what my entitlements to postnatal care were. I knew I was going to move after giving birth but I had no idea that I would be pressured to leave at 5am when I was distressed, still bleeding and unable to walk.

“I was exhausted, both physically and mentally after the birth of my baby and I found the ordeal of being told to leave the hospital, without being offered any food, and drive for an hour incredibly traumatic. I suffered severe postnatal depression and anxiety which completely ruined the first three months of my time as a mother with my baby.

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.

“Birth is the most profound physiological, mental and emotional experience and is therefore a time that deserves the most care. Regardless of the type of birth a mother has had, the first 48 hours are critical for monitoring the health of a new mum and her baby and responding to any changes, needs or medical complications that may arise.

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.

Ellen Chisholm adds “I’ll never get those precious months back and it saddens me that I couldn’t enjoy my boy for so long. If I had known that I was able to ask to stay, I definitely would have and I hope this campaign empowers others mothers to understand why postnatal care is so critical and what their entitlement is.”

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.

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