Legislation introduced will ensure new mothers in Nova Scotia are supported both during their pregnancy and after giving birth, with classes, check ups and by setting neonatal standards outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, MLA for Cumberland North and a Registered Nurse by trade, says the package of changes are aimed at lowering postpartum depression, reducing chronic pain and enhancing healthy infant outcomes. The legislation introduced March 10, 2020 cannot be debated due to a historically short spring session by the governing Liberals.
“Being a new mother can be a scary and uncertain time,” said Smith-McCrossin. “Having access to prenatal classes and post-delivery home check ups, is vital for the health of newborns and mothers.”
The Health-care for New and Expectant Mothers Act, would also mandate that Nova Scotia meet Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative targets set by the WHO by 2025.
“Early prenatal care can reduce the risk of pregnancy complications for both mother and baby; provide education about postpartum depression, caring for baby at home, what to expect at the hospital and labor and delivery,” says Sarah MacMaster, Executive Director, Maggie’s Place. “In our work at the family resource center we see the need for increased education around how to reduce the risk of postpartum depression and how to recognize the signs for those who are suffering we also see a need for breast-feeding support by having lactation consultant available in hospitals and available to people postnatally.”
Premier Stephen McNeil cut funding for prenatal classes in 2015. McCrossin says that the supports which were previously in place, did wonders for both the health and the peace of mind of mothers. Nova Scotia is the only Atlantic province not to offer the service.
“Couples, but especially women, spend years planning their pregnancy and childbirth. We would ask that the government of Nova Scotia put that same care into planning,” she continued. “In certain instances, mothers can be sent home the same day as giving birth. What we are proposing to provide is six information sessions for new mothers and a home check up after.”
“In-home visitation by an RN after leaving the hospital with a newborn would provide an opportunity for a health screening for the new mother and her newborn. This would ensure they have the supports that they need and a chamber for a check-in on their mental well-being,” says MacMaster. “Investment in province-wide prenatal and postnatal care in conjunction with the community supports that currently exists will create better health outcomes for women and their babies.”
McCrossin added that cutting healthcare to balance budgets is never sustainable.
‘Nova Scotians are scared about what services are going to be cut next,” she said. “But to force pregnant women to do more with less, isn’t something they are willing to tolerate.”