Have you guys seen this?
I just sent in my letter to the politicians quotes in the article and encourage everyone to do the same if they think this is the wrong direction to be heading.
Here is my letter - feel free to copy and make changes that pertain to your situation.
Healthy Start Program - NOT a healthy start for first time mom's who aren't low-income, at-risk and under the age of 25. Please reconsider this decision.
I am writing in response to the Time Colonist article about the Healthy Start initiative which will see "first-time, low-income and at-risk moms under the age of 25" receive nurse home visits following their discharge from hospital while other new mom's will receive "a phone call from a public health nurse and resources will be offered to mothers who request assistance or are flagged by hospitals, doctors and health-care workers as needing help — whether in the form of a home visit, breastfeeding support or professional referrals, for example, according to the province."
My son was born May of 2010. I intended to breastfeed for the recommended 6 month period only - if I was able to. After pushing through the difficult initial period of learning and mastering the art and technique of breastfeeding I have been able to enjoy this act with my son even after having returned to work full-time while I continue to breastfeed once at night with my eye on meeting the new Ministry guideline of 2 years of breastfeeding.
I am neither low-income or at-risk. Nor am I under 25. I cannot begin to tell you how helpful the home visit from my public health nurse was. When I was told she would be coming so soon after my discharge from hospital I thought it would be a wasted visit. How would I possibly have had enough time to have questions or problems in that short period of time? Well by the time she arrived the day after I was released from hospital I had a list of questions. In addition, she was a huge help in helping my son and I continue to improve our breastfeeding. Within the 3 days (2 of which I was in the hospital with nursing support) I had managed to injure one side of my body (the result of poor latch and poor positioning) which caused intense discomfort. My husband can attest to the threatening looks I sent him any time he did anything that risked waking up our son because I could just not bear the thought of having to feed on that side again. But the nurse who visited our home was very supportive and reassuring and educated me a great deal on how I could have more success. There is NO way this same result could have been delivered over the phone.
Breastfeeding is hard. I would estimate that 50% of my post-secondary educated, middle-class income friends who had kids between the ages of 25-35 were unable to breastfeed for one reason or another. Everyone assumes it will come naturally to mother and child but it often doesn't. (There are too many factors and causes to list in this short letter). Or, in many cases, the child loses too much weight to wait for everything to "click".
Health Minister Mike de Jong's assertion that 'many mothers already have a broad support network, including family, midwives and family physicians' "but there are others who do not and we are not going to apologize — in fact, I am proud of the fact — that Healthy Start is about focusing on those mothers and those families who don't have that support" is misguided. Yes we might have more support than some of the women being targeted by your program. But, we all pay taxes and we all deserve support. Without the support there will be reduced success rate in breastfeeding, increased numbers of exclusively formula fed babies (have you seen the provincial health brochures on the benefits of breastfeeding?), and increases in doctor's office and hospital visits with infants who become unnecessarily sick or malnourished. Mothers (and their supportive fathers and families) will find parenthood even more stressful and challenging than they already do.
I strongly urge you to reconsider this decision. This strikes me as a poorly disguised cash-grab. Luckily for the Province (under this policy) the average age of first time mom's is increasing. So until the average age hits some plateau that we all become at-risk for some reason your cost should keep decreasing under this Program! All first time moms, regardless of income, age, and risk-assessment NEED and should receive a home visit from their public health nurse. Other resources are available (breastfeeding clinics, La Leche League support, etc) but these are sometimes beyond the physical ability of a sleep-deprived first-time mom.
What happened to Families First? I would gladly give back the February Statutory Holiday to know that all first-time mom's were getting a home visit from their public health nurse.
Mike deJong - Liberal Minister of Health [email]Mike.deJong.MLA@leg.bc.ca[/email]
Sue Hammell - NDP Deputy Health Critic [email]firstname.lastname@example.org[/email]
Mike Farnworth - NDP Health Critic [email]email@example.com[/email]