Lack of support for new mums protested

By Te Ao - Māori News

Warning: This story discusses suicide and may be triggering for some viewers.

Every year at least 10 women are lost to maternal suicide in Aotearoa, mostly wahine Māori, and experts say that's the tip of the iceberg as many go unreported. 

A harrowing short film was screened for the first time in Parliament last week as part of a movement to bring years of maternal failures to light. 

The film, created by Moonshine Films in partnership with advocacy group Mothers Matter, shows a struggling pregnant woman who ends up taking her own life after giving birth. 

The Mothers Matter campaign is protesting against women being discharged from hospital without any support after giving birth.

Tracy Macfarlane, founder of Imoko and a collaborator behind the Mothers Matter campaign, says the maternity system has a few flaws. 

"If you're a resourced woman who has support, then you can have your baby, go home and be supported by your whānau. If you don't have those things, then you get offered a bag of nappies and go home to little support and struggle," Tracy says. "We see the outcomes of that every day."

Macfarlane also made note of the lack of education on good care during pregnancy. "I think people don't realise that, yeah, pregnancy is very natural and beautiful, but it's also the biggest physical and psychological that your body, as a woman, will ever have. I think we've really underestimated the effect that that has.

"I know midwives work really hard, and I think that we need to look at how we can support midwives better to do their job. I think it would be a really big step in the right direction."