Postnatal education pre-birth
Amidst all the current talk on mental health, Philippa Murphy wants to encourage conversation about parent and newborn mental health at government level and is fronting an online petition requesting funding for dedicated postnatal education to expectant parents.
Murphy is the founder of The Pudding Club, a mother, a postnatal practitioner at her private practice BabyCues and a leading postnatal educator and author, both in New Zealand and internationally. She is also a member of of the Infant Mental Health Association of New Zealand and has a postnatal career spanning more than 20 years.
‘‘Parents can currently enrol in fantastic antenatal education but usually only a small part of this is focused on postnatal information, which far too often leads to the ambulance at the bottom of a cliff scenario for the family. We get in-depth training before starting other jobs, why not this very important one?’’
The petition has almost raised 3,500 signatures from midwives, Plunket nurses and parents, including leading psychiatrist Dr Robyn Hewland QSM, who said she agreed with supportive education.
‘‘We all need supports and new information when in new situations and experiences. Babies need to feel enjoyed, loved and to avoid tensions.’’
New mum Rachel Marpole joined The Pudding Club in March and now has a five-weekold daughter, Sarah. It was great to learn some strategies to look after her baby once she was born, rather than just focusing on pregnancy and birth, she said.
‘‘Antenatal classes don’t teach you how to burp a baby, or that babies don’t always cry for hunger. We learned how to read baby’s body language a bit more, how to ease her pain when she has wind in her tummy.’’
She had also been given the tools to help her deal with Sarah’s colic and reflux, and was able to be more attentive to her cues.
‘‘It’s not normal for a baby to cry for hours and hours, although many doctors will tell you to just ride it out. Now I feel like I can do things to help her.’’
Feeling prepared went a long way to helping parents cope mentally, Murphy said, as well as nurturing newborns to flourish at a time that was essential to their physical and mental development.
‘‘Postnatal depression is of high concern with approximately 15 per cent of New Zealand women affected by this, which may also lead to depression in the woman’s partner and cognitive, emotional and behavioural difficulties in the young child with the reduced likelihood to bond. With funding I believe New Zealand may be the first to offer this education in the developed world, which would be phenomenal. It may also help to bring down our awful child abuse rates.’’
For more information and to sign the petition online, find Philippa Murphy on change.org.
Rachel Marpole and five-week-old baby Sarah, says more postnatal education should be given to mothers before they give birth.