Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A baby dies and change is sought.

My heart goes out to the couple in Wellington whose baby daughter died around 24 hours after she was born after Mum and baby had gone home 5 hours after their baby was born. This has been a frontline news item in New Zealand for the last 24 hours and it must be so hard for these parents who have not yet buried their baby. I hope that they are getting the support they so badly need at this time.

There has been strong criticism of Capital Coast DHB and its policy on early discharge as a possible contributing factor to this tragedy. Our new Health Minister, David Cunliffe, is demonstrating his vigor by suggesting that he may intervene in the management of Capital Coast Health. One network news discussed this tragedy in a very well balanced and thoughtful segment last night with Lorelei Mason providing a segment considering the lack of a primary birthing unit in Wellington and also in Dunedin. Norma Campbell the midwifery adviser from NZCOM explained that women no longer stay in facilities for 2 weeks after babies are born and this has not been the case for a considerable time. How long should women stay in a facility after birth? I am going to discuss this further in another post and would welcome your discussion on this point.

I am pleased that this debate has been opened up and the issue of primary birthing units is being highlighted. This may bring some long awaited action for both Wellington and Dunedin. It was also heartening to hear Lorlei describe the difference between a primary birthing unit which is situated within a secondary care facility and a stand alone primary birthing unit.

None the less we should not forget that this has come to the fore through one family’s personal tragedy. All who have been associated with this baby’s birth and death are suffering now, the friends and family of the couple and the midwife who provided their care. We all need to be aware that this is a far from normal situation, babies do not die because they go home within hours of birth. Before we start blaming we need to know what happened and why and we will not know this for some time yet. In the meantime I am thinking of this midwife and this family and hoping you all have strength and compassion for each other at this time.


Sarah Stewart said...

I talked about this issue of early post partum discharge in an earlier post before the news of the death of the baby: http://sarah-stewart.blogspot.com/2007/11/midwife-shortage-in-wellington-new.html

The reality is there is no evidence to support long admission. Length of hospital stay should depend on woman's choice, what sort of birth she had and the support she has at home. I am afraid to say, it also depends on the midwifery support she has when she gets home.

Carolyn McIntosh said...

Yes it this is true. When a tragedy like this happens though people naturally look at what has occurred and start to attribute blame. Until the full facts of the case are known there is no benefit in trying to guess why this has happened. Women should still feel OK to make the decision that is right for them and their particular circumstances.

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