Coping with a newborn baby is not always smiles and joy.

Suicide is the leading cause of death amongst women who have just given birth in New Zealand. Fifteen per cent of women suffer post partum depression, and more than 50% of them are Māori women. Contributing factors include the lower socioeconomic status of many Māori and there being too few Māori midwives. 

This is the issue which a team of our Nursing students have focussed on in their research project. The team comprised Brenna Wilson, Courtney Smith, Shannon Solomon, Whitney Steiner, Grace Stewart, Johanna Stolte, Jessica Thin, Corinna Thompson and Lily Tierney. Currently pregnant women are not routinely being given information about post partum depression. To address this, the students developed information cards:

  • One card is for new mothers. On the front it tells them the signs and symptoms of post partum depression, and on the back is has information about how to access mental health services. It is available in English and te reo.
  • The second card is for health professionals. It encourages them to use one of two screening questions printed on the card, and includes a follow up question to ask if the person they are seeing would like help.

These resources have been produced and distributed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Queen Mary maternity ward at Dunedin Public Hospital, to Plunket, and to Arai Te Uru Whare Hauora. The students also wrote to the Southern District Health Board drawing attention to the issue and the need for Māori specific mental health services.

August 2021

Image credit: Nicolas Michaud, sourced from Flickr, used under Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0