Preventative intervention for our newborns and parents via dedicated postnatal education

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This petition is requesting that the House of Representatives urge the New Zealand Government to appropriately fund dedicated postnatal education to expectant parents.

Currently, when parents become pregnant there are many avenues available for them to learn about the antenatal stages of pregnancy and labour. Generally they will also receive a little information in these classes about breastfeeding and the changes for Mum, Dad and baby for the first few weeks of life. This petition asks, is that enough? The signatures on this petition say, loud and clear, NO IT IS NOT!

Caring for a child is one of THE most important roles in the world and yet the initial ‘training’ that is needed to perform this substantially life changing occurrence is sorely lacking. This, in turn can create grave effects on the mental and physical health for the parent and child at a stage that has been proven, time and time again, to be of the utmost importance in the development of our young.

In my postnatal practice I consult with families from many regions around New Zealand that have been left to flounder in a sea of doubt and worry, with many of them at the end of their tether as they ‘stand at the edge of the cliff.’ Some are struggling with a moderately unsettled baby, or infant, and through no fault of their own have no idea how to help them even after following many suggested paths. Others have reached breaking point and have been known to instinctively place their hand over the baby’s mouth to stop the crying just for a second. They may admit to holding their baby too tightly for a moment, or almost throwing them against the wall, and for those of you that read this, that aren’t parents and think you would never do such a thing, this kind of occurrence can happen in an instant when the highly detrimental effects of sleep deprivation and helplessness are felt. This leads to great turmoil for those parents, whom also never thought they would do that to their child. Yet sadly, and horrifically in some cases, this is an all too common experience for our New Zealand parents that are far too often left to 'intuitively' know what to do. This scenario is not to be judged, it is to be helped. 

Postnatal depression is of high concern with approximately 15% of New Zealand women affected by this (1), which may also lead to depression in the women's partner and cognitive, emotional and behavioural difficulties in the young child with the reduced likelihood to bond. One has to ask, how much of this is born out of the lack of knowledge creating the feeling of not being able to cope? 

We can alleviate, if not stop the often highly negative, spiralling effects that are birthed out of this lack of in-depth postnatal education during pregnancy. This would not only significantly aid our newborns, and families, whether it be there first, second, third or fourth child, but also alleviate some of the ongoing costs on our health system that currently provides the ‘ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.’

Yes, there are national organisations that currently offer postnatal education WITHIN antenatal classes, but we believe a few hours chat about postnatal care is not enough for the parent, newborn, or our healthcare system. Instead, in-depth, independent, subsidised postnatal education during pregnancy is an intervention programme that all of our families deserve.   

By subsidising this fully focused education and better teaching parents how to assume their new role by learning aspects like: 

  • Newborn Communication
  • Feeding practices and problems, inclusive of breastfeeding, bottle and formula information 
  • Calming and burping techniques
  • General practical care of their newborn
  • Basic, newborn digestive biology
  • Normal and abnormal health indicators so parents know when to reach out for help
  • Self-care and relational-care

we are more likely to create positive, nurturing environments at a prime time of the child’s development.

Knowledge is power, it is liberating. Understanding nurtures relationships. Informed choice creates confidence and the signatures on this petition believe that delivering these three aspects, before baby's birth with fuller education, is ESSENTIAL for positive newborn development and a family’s mental and physical well-being. 

WE believe the current situation is a supreme health concern for the welfare of our children and our country. Therefore we urge you, the New Zealand Government to EMPOWER OUR PARENTS by offering completely subsidised, dedicated postnatal education in the antenatal stages for ALL New Zealand parents.

1. http://www.hpa.org.nz/sites/default/files/%EF%BF%BCPostnatal%20Depression%20in%20New%20Zealand-%20Findings%20from%20the%202015%20New%20Mothers%E2%80%99%20Mental%20Health%20Survey.pdf

2. http://www.childmatters.org.nz/55/learn-about-child-abuse/facts



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