Te Whānau Āwhina support new parents through lockdown

By Regan Paranihi

COVID-19 restrictions in place at hospitals mean that patients are restricted to the number of visitors who are allowed to call in – a major challenge especially for mothers giving birth.

However, with the help of Māori midwives from the Whānau Āwhina team at Plunket, mothers are feeling more at ease.

Parents Isaac and Lucy Brouwer welcomed their first child in Hamilton just before lockdown and say support from the Whānau Āwhina team made their experience more easy-going.

"It was really hard because it was only me at the hospital when I was having strong contractions but I did have great support from the hospital midwives,” says Lucy.

Isaac says that he and Lucy were grateful to attend a wānanga organised by Te Whānau Āwhina to prepare them for the next steps post-labour.

"That was a really good experience. It was time for Lucy and I to have our time with baby before anyone else did just sort of get the hang of somethings as new parents."

So far 34 children under nine years of age have been diagnosed with COVID-19, including three babies aged under one-year-old in Waikato and Southland.

Rawinia Hohua (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Maniapoto) says the nurses are working really hard to provide their ongoing care to our whānau.

She says due to the restrictions nurses had to change the way in which they assist and connect with whānau, "We've taken on a new approach a priority virtual service that looks at caring specifically for our Māori and Pacific whānau."

 Plunket sent out a survey to whānau to assess the key concerns they have during this time.

"The things that came out of that was kōrero around birthing and also around immunisation about protecting our babies at this time especially with the COVID-19," says Hohua.

Plunket and Te Whānau Āwhina are encouraging anyone who may need advice and assistance during this time to reach out.