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The Amherst News - 2020-03-25

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An issue that needs discussing

COVID-19

HALIFAX – The provincial Conservatives have introduced legislation to ensure new mothers in Nova Scotia are supported with classes and checkups and by setting neonatal standards outlined by the World Health Organization. The legislation, however, cannot be debated due to the short spring session by the provincial government. Cumberland North MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, who is also a registered nurse by trade, said the package of changes is aimed at lowering postpartum depression, reducing chronic pain and enhancing healthy infant outcomes. “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 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 labour and delivery,” Maggie’s Place executive director Sarah MacMaster said in a news release. “In our work at the family resource centre 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 a lactation consultant available in hospitals and available to people postnatally.” Smith-McCrossin said Premier Stephen McNeil cut funding for prenatal classes in 2015. She said the supports 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,” the MLA said. “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 checkup after.” MacMaster said a home visit by an RN after the mother and her newborn leave the hospital would provide an opportunity for a health screening for the new mother and her infant. “This would ensure they have the supports that they need and a chamber for a check-in on their mental well-being,” said MacMaster. “Investment in provincewide prenatal and postnatal care in conjunction with the community supports that currently exist will create better health outcomes for women and their babies.” Smith-McCrossin said cutting health care 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.”

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