All mums served hospital meals

Breastfeeding mothers of sick babies are given extra supplements, but all mothers are given main meals during hospital stays, say Nelson-Marlborough health officials.

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

However, in Nelson, Pat Davidson, Nelson-Marlborough DHB service manager specialist services, said dinner and breakfast were provided to mothers with babies needing hospital care whether they were breastfeeding or not.

''During the day additional nutritional supplements are provided, snacks etc., for breastfeeding mothers,'' he said.

She said the NMDHB policy was to supply full meals to post delivery mothers and then on a needs basis.

''So if there are social issues, there is some discretion about providing meals.''

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.’’

She said a review of the policy was under way.

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.

A CDHB spokeswoman said  comment on whether the board would review its policy would be made today.