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Handcuffs outrage demands answers - Rich

Handcuffs outrage demands answers - Rich

The Minister of Corrections should be taking immediate action to make sure no more female prison inmates are handcuffed during birth, says National Party Social Services spokeswoman Katherine Rich.

"For a woman to be forced to wear hand-cuffs during any stage of labour is a complete outrage.

"Do our prison bosses seriously think that these women are at high risk of escaping?

"Use some common sense, no woman is thinking about absconding while giving birth," she says.

"I'm also deeply concerned by reports that the mother was on the maternity ward for less than a day after the birth," says Katherine Rich.

"Unless there are some extraordinarily convincing reasons, being separated from her baby after 16 hours is barbaric.

"Especially if the mother is on the methadone programme, many midwives tell me breastfeeding helps smooth the withdrawal for the baby.

"But with separation occurring so soon after birth, my guess is the opportunity to breastfeed went out the window," she says.

"The Department must explain why this decision was taken and the Corrections Minister must demand an urgent report into the treatment of the woman.

"Being shackled while in labour is not humane.

"The Department must explain the criteria for its Feeding and Bonding Unit and why daily visits weren't an option for this mother and baby.

"It must also explain why usual options for security at the hospital post-birth weren't implemented so the mother could stay more than one day. "And importantly, I want to know what support has been put in place for the Grandmother to care for the baby on her return to Dunedin.

"Caring for a newborn can be (and usually is) stressful.

"This stress could be compounded particularly if there are methadone related complications.

"We don't want this child to fall between the cracks and become another statistic," Katherine Rich says.

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