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Mothers and babies deserve sanctuary not bribes

29 November 2007

Mothers and babies deserve sanctuary not bribes

The Health Minister must reassess the Government's approach to post-natal care in response to admissions today of mothers being paid $100 to leave hospital early after giving birth, the Green Party says.

"It is shocking that at a time of Government surpluses and dreadful child violence statistics hospitals are bribing mothers to leave immediately after giving birth," Children's Issues Spokesperson Sue Bradford says.

"If the problem is not enough midwives or hospital beds, then resources should be applied immediately. I suggest that the Minister look at improving the wages and conditions of midwives as part of the solution.

"One of the major contributors to the battering and killing of babies and young children is a lack of successful bonding between mother and baby. The situations where this is most likely to happen are in households where people do not have enough money to survive with any degree of comfort.

"These are also the households where the mother is most likely to take a $100 bribe to vacate the hospital immediately.

"In some cases she will be going home to poverty, chaos, and an expectation that she will meet the demands of other children as well as those of her new baby.

"Such mothers risk not being able to establish breastfeeding properly; not bonding well with their new child; post-natal depression and despair, as well as sinking into the addiction and crime subculture to which such households are vulnerable.

"This is not just a Wellington issue - sending mothers home early is becoming common practice around New Zealand these days.

"We must seriously consider going back to the days when mothers were guaranteed at least a minimum number of days they could stay in hospital after each birth, whether she was a first time mother or not.

"Allowing mothers to stay in hospital for longer would cost more, but would be an investment that I am sure would pay off in the long term in regards to reducing violence against children, mental health problems for mothers and improving long term outcomes for mothers and children alike.

"I call on the Minister to not only look at reasons for the midwife shortage but also to reassess the Government's whole approach to the care of mothers and babies after birth."

ENDS

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