All mothers of sick babies to be fed

Last updated 05:00 04/09/2012

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The Southern District Health Board is making "immediate changes" to provide both bottlefeeding and breastfeeding mothers of sick babies with free meals.

The announcement comes after the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) came under fire for its policy that denies free meals for mothers of babies admitted to hospital, not including the maternity ward, who are bottlefeeding.

Last week, CDHB child health manager Anne Morgan said that when a baby was admitted to hospital, not including the maternity ward, the stress could affect the mother's ability to lactate properly.

Because a breastfeeding mother was the source of her baby's nutrition, those with a sick baby up to 6 months old were offered meals to ensure they could continue to feed their baby, she said.

Yesterday, Southern DHB deputy chief nursing and midwifery officer Tina Gilbertson said immediate changes would be made to its policy so meals would be provided for all mothers with babies who were admitted to hospital.

"We got it wrong, we are remedying it and we apologise to any parents who may have been caused distress as a result of this policy," she said.

“The previous policy was designed with good intentions surrounding supporting breastfeeding mothers, but we have looked at the policy and we agree that it was flawed and we should support all mothers to be with their children at such stressful times."

A review of the policy was under way, she said.

The Auckland District Health Board is also reviewing its policy.

A spokesman said there was "no blanket policy" on providing meals for mothers.

"Staff have the discretion to make the decision [to provide meals]," he said.

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