27 Jul 2020

Ardern signals maternity mental health support if Labour wins

7:51 pm on 27 July 2020

The government needs to do more to help the parents of babies who die in their first year, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.

Newborn baby in hospital. Baby care unit.

Photo: 123RF

Sands, a charity that helps bereaved families, says government funding is inadequate and more needs to be done.

Ardern praised Sands for providing support "in the most extraordinary circumstances".

"Some of those peer-to-peer support services come out of the need they identify, but as I've said there's room for us to be putting funding into maternal mental health support and there is more to be done in this space," she said.

She told Morning Report she would be looking at doing more in this area if Labour was elected again.

A report from a select committee will be presented to parliament today on providing up to three days' bereavement leave for parents who have just lost a baby in stillbirth or miscarriage.

"Even things like that make a difference, but it's certainly not the only thing we need to be doing," Ardern said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

"Recently [Associate Minister of Health] Julie Anne Genter has put out significant additional funding, for instance, to midwives, and part of that includes $16 million in community maternity work, which will allow us to do things like maternal mental health pilot and support programmes."

It would also ensure midwives' clients who experienced loss of a baby had continued support, she said.

Simple measures like having a good understanding of factors that contribute to stillbirths, and sharing it with expectant mothers, was also key, the prime minister said.

"It's not that long ago that I went through the experience of having a baby in New Zealand. We do rely on lead maternity carers to make sure they're passing on an extraordinary amount of information."

- You can listen to more on new podcast series The Unthinkable, hosted by Susie Ferguson, which opens the door on the topic of losing a baby - an issue that affects hundreds of families every year.

If you need to talk, free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor.

For other support:

Wheturangitia - https://wheturangitia.services.govt.nz/

Sands - http://www.sands.org.nz/

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