Dignity in childbirth for Manitoba women

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Dear Honourable Kelvin Goertzen, Minister of Health in Manitoba, Canada:

I am writing you in regards to a rising patient care concern in Manitoba hospitals that has come to my attention. This is a sensitive topic, but please consider that any possible discomfort in discussing this issue pales in comparison to the discomfort experienced by women who are directly affected, and that it is a point of view shared by a great number of them. 

In an effort to cut healthcare costs, several maternity wards in Manitoba are no longer providing postpartum feminine products to their patients. Specifically, they have stopped supplying the postpartum pads and disposable mesh underwear that are normally provided to new mothers in the immediate days following childbirth. This presents a significant problem for several reasons:

These are not products that can simply be bought in a store. They can only be ordered through specialty medical supply companies. This requires resources that many women simply don't have. It also requires planning ahead, which can be difficult due to the unpredictability of childbirth. As a result, many women turn to menstrual products or incontinence products, many of which are not safe or adequate for the immediate postpartum period.

It risks leaving women in very undignified situations should they come unprepared. First time mothers especially may not be forewarned of the severity of postpartum bleeding and may only bring regular menstrual products. Mothers who are being transferred from other regions or facilities in Manitoba may not have brought anything at all. The postpartum time is one of intense physical and emotional vulnerability, pain and limited mobility. It should be spend resting, healing and bonding with the newborn, not in distress and embarrassment over postpartum leakage. Need I really go into detail? Let me just say "hemorrhage" and "lemon sized blood clots!" 

In some situations postpartum women have been given one postpartum pad and one mesh panty, and told no other ones would be provided for the remainder of the hospital stay. The assumption would be that the patient would acquire any other necessary products herself, however in reality this risks the patient using the one pad for far too long, which presents a considerable health risk. Women have also been told to wash the mesh panty themselves and wear it over and over again, even when wet!

It conveys a very dismissive and out of touch attitude towards basic biology, maternity issues and women in general. Investing in maternal health only has positive outcomes for any society, as has been proven over and over again on an international scale. Basic dignity and hygiene in the immediate days following childbirth is not something that women in Canadian hospitals should have to fight for in the 21st century! There are ways of cutting back on on unnecessary healthcare spending, but this is not the way to do it.

As one of many concerned mothers I am urging you to reinstate the provision of these very necessary healthcare products. Please sign and share this petition.



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