"The B.C. government is putting an end to a decades-old practice of ensuring every new mother in the province gets a home visit from a public health nurse."
I read that line from one of my parenting groups that the BC government is cutting back on home visits from a public health nurse. It made me think back to some of the first visits I received, in Alberta mind you, after my son was born. I was very weak recovering from 40 hours of labour and a c-section, but I was euphoric. I felt like I could do anything. When I found out a nurse was coming over my first thought was "why?" I felt I had things under control. I was brimming with joy, surrounded by friends, with my beautiful, sleeping infant in my arms. I might have been the first to refuse such a visit if it were optional. However I was very glad to have those visits. As the days pased and the initial euphoria wore off I began to experience some exhaustion and anxiety. I was relieved not to have to bundle my infant and take him to a clinic for a check up, and the nurse was able to provide detailed progress assessments of my infant. He was growing well, he was nourished, breastfeeding was going well, etc. He was a very sleepy baby, and had experienced a lot of physical trauma in the 40 hours of labour. My nurse was able to correctly diagnose him with slight jaundice, and just had us put him in the sunshine, nurse him as much as possible and keep an eye on it.
Another reason I was glad to have my nurse, and this is a very personal reason and very dear to my heart, she counseled me on circumcision. Up until that moment I was going to go ahead and circumcise my son. I didn't know much about it, I only knew my husband wanted it done, and that he seemed to care more about it than I did. My nurse actually showed me a diagram of baby circumcision. She did not make my decision for me, but she gave me all the information, nothing left out, and allowed me make an informed choice. No health professional had done that for me before. My surgeon was advising me to go ahead with it, no medical staff said anything different on the subject. If it weren't for my health nurse's visit I can guarentee that my baby would have been circumcised.
I'm not even sure what the official stance of the Public Health Authority on circumcision. It could be this was something she felt motivated to do herself. For me it was a very important part of my care, because someone actually took some time to explain the procedure to me. She said "if you feel at all undecided, it's probably best to wait. It's not something that can be undone."
My daughter was born in BC. I had the same wonderful, personal home visits as I did with my son. Again, predictably my mood dropped with my hormones at about the 5th day after childbirth, and I was glad to have the advice and attention when I was at risk for PPD. Again I would have been considered outside of their new low-income criteria. However, the fact remains, we don't actually always know when we need help most, or what sort of help we might need. New motherhood is a very vulnerable time and we all... ALL of us need all the support we can get.
If you wish to write to your Health Minister, Health Critic and Premier the contact information is as follows:
minister of health micheal de jong:
NDP health critic:
If, like many of us, you are a very busy mother you might want to copy and paste the letter below instead of writing your own. (Thank you Taai Taai for the letter!)
It has recently come to my attention that the Health Ministry is cutting back routine home visits from Public Health Nurses to new mothers.
Routine nursing visits in the early post-partum are useful for detecting health problems in post-partum women and their infants. New mothers may not know enough to ask for a home visit. It is also concerning that Public Health Nurses will be pulled from existing programs to the new program for "at-risk" mothers under the age of 25. While I appreciate the effort to offer more extensive help to young mothers, it should not be at the expense of a functional program that provides a needed service. Furthermore, the age limit is arbitrary.
It is difficult to assess risk when you are not routinely screening new mothers through home visits after birth. I think this is a public health disaster in the making. Public health nurses help new mothers establish breast-feeding, catch health problems that new mothers may not be able to identify, and are a valuable and essential service.
I think this is a short-sighted plan that will end up costing the government more money in the long run, as mothers who fall through the cracks develop health problems in themselves or their infants that require more care at a later intervention date. I hope that you will reconsider this decision.
A blog on art, roller derby and life.
I'm an artist and mother of two in Courtenay, BC. I've completed a project called the "Madonna and Child Project," and I'm now working on a series of roller derby inspired drawings. In my spare time I play roller derby with the Brick House Betties.