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Parent And Baby Wellbeing - Policies Offer “Fresh Thinking”

Parent And Baby Wellbeing - Policies Offer “Fresh Thinking”

Five policy proposals that focus on preventative intervention for families, have been placed in front of Health Minister David Clark as they start their inquiry into mental health.

Could this be part of the ‘fresh start’ Jacinda Arden is calling for?

Policy one asks for ‘Dedicated postnatal education and health promotion for all expectant New Zealand parents to be fully funded by government.’ Philippa Murphy, postnatal practitioner, clinical researcher, lobbyist for preventative intervention for family wellbeing and deliverer of these policies says, “Currently, there is limited postnatal education offered to parents while pregnant, despite the fact that parenting is a critical role, and newborns are our most vulnerable population. This initiative could help tremendously.”

The second policy asks, ‘that all mothers and newborns can stay a minimum of 48 hours in hospital after all births, with partners able to sleep in with their partner and newborn. Families are also given the option to stay up to a minimum of four days in hospital if they so choose.’ Ellen Chisholm, recently in the news after being asked to leave hospital three hours after birthing says, “I experienced severe PND and believe being asked to leave hospital at 5am after a 27 hour labour, and three hours of giving birth was a huge contributor to my illness. It ruined the first few months of my time with my baby.”

Policy three shines a light on the fact that tongue and lip ties are not currently checked as standard practice at birth, resulting in a number of problems. Proposal asks, ‘all newborns be routinely checked at birth for tongue/lip ties by a qualified and fully trained professional at the primary birthing hospital, or by the LMC attending the homebirth. Adequate training is funded for all maternity workforces to ensure this standard diagnostic procedure.’ There are additional requests in this policy, which follows on from a petition with 7,177 signatures that was presented to the House of Representatives in 2017, asking ‘The Ministry of Health to revisit how tongue and lip tie are treated in New Zealand.’

Coming fast on the heels of the government passing extension of paid parental leave to 26 weeks, the fourth proposal asks the government to extend paternity leave, stating, ‘employees who have been working for their employer for between 6 and 12 months (averaging at least 10 hours per week) by the time of their baby’s expected delivery, or adoption date are entitled to three weeks paid leave, in addition to the mother’s paid parental leave. Employees who have been working for their employer for 12 months or more (averaging at least 10 hours per week) by the time of their baby’s expected delivery or adoption date are entitled to four weeks paid leave, in addition to the mother’s paid parental leave.’ Murphy says, “By allowing mother’s more leave the government has enabled those early months of bonding to happen while promoting the early security of baby. Ensuring partners can stay home for three to four weeks alongside the mother will not only create a safer, mental health environment and recovery period for both the mother and baby, but will also promote bonding for the father/partner.”

The last policy proposal is about soy formula. The government was strongly lobbied on this almost two decades ago by experts in the field. Scientist Dr Mike Fitzpatrick has long maintained soy formula should be available only on prescription: "Infants fed soy formula are exposed to very high levels of phytoestrogens, the effects of which are not fully understood. Now, based on trials on marmosets, there is clear evidence that baby boys fed soy formula may experience early physiological changes in sex organs and altered puberty progression. This was a predicted concern 20 years ago. Feeding a soy formula is still an experiment with the sexual health of children". The policy asks the government to provide full education to all health professionals, and parents on health risks of soy formula. For this to be removed from New Zealand supermarkets shelves, and made available exclusively through prescription with an accompanying medical warning. For clear labelling on all soy formula that is sold in New Zealand to include a health warning and the Ministry of Health’s website to change its position stated on its website, to be in line with international research.

To download the full policy and have your voice heard go to www.babycues.info/campaigns

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