Post­na­tal ed­u­ca­tion pre-birth

Northern Outlook - - FRONT PAGE - EMMA DANGER­FIELD

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.

EMMA DANGER­FIELD/STUFF

Rachel Mar­pole and five-week-old baby Sarah, says more post­na­tal ed­u­ca­tion should be given to moth­ers be­fore they give birth.

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