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New Zealand - Birth

For those who are having a baby in New Zealand, there is a good standard of healthcare and most hospitals in the larger towns and cities have dedicated maternity units. It is fairly common for women in New Zealand to give birth at home, particularly those who live in rural areas. If you do give birth in one of the hospitals you will spend a short time there then most women are transferred to a community hospital or a specialist birthing centre for several days to recover, but it is an option simply to return home immediately. These units are staffed by specially trained nurses and midwives.

The birthing centres provide a number of services to help the new mother to relax. These include a homely environment, laundry and individual care. One of the disadvantages of these centres is that if there are any complications a woman will need to be transferred to a hospital as there will be few facilities for emergency care at a hospital. The birthing centres can also help a woman to learn the practicalities for caring for her baby.

The role of the midwife is an important one in New Zealand as they look after mothers throughout the pregnancy and for a few months following the birth. This care is provided free of charge to residents until the baby is six weeks old. Organisations such as the Mothers and Midwives Associated group in Auckland can help women to find a midwife and offer advice on all aspects of pregnancy and maternity care. There are similar groups in other parts of New Zealand.

Maternity leave in New Zealand has a statutory period of 14 weeks paid leave. This can begin six weeks before the due date of the baby. Paternity leave is unpaid but can be taken for one week if the worker has been in the job for a minimum of 6 months, or 2 weeks if they have been in the job for 12 months or more. There are also provisions for those who want to take longer periods of unpaid leave although a qualifying period of work is required for this to apply.

When registering the birth of a child there is no fee to be paid unless you require a copy of the birth certificate. It is the law that both parents of the newborn baby must notify the department of Births, Deaths and Marriages as soon as possible following the birth. The time limit for birth registrations is 2 months. When the baby is born the parents are given a form called ‘Notification of Birth for Registration’. This needs to be completed and sent to the department of Births, Deaths and Marriages. There is no requirement for the parents to attend the department in person. The birth certificate can be requested at the same time as the form is submitted, although it can be requested at any time. There is a section on the form to order the certificate and the fee must be included before the certificate will be issued.

It is possible to obtain a legal abortion in New Zealand but there must be specific circumstances. If the pregnancy poses a danger to the life of the mother, or could cause her poor physical or mental health then permission for an abortion can be obtained. If there is a risk that the baby will be handicapped then this will also be taken into consideration. After 12 weeks of pregnancy an abortion can only be carried out in a hospital. In order to obtain an abortion 2 doctors must approve that the circumstances warrant the procedure and one of these must be an obstetrician or gynaecologist. It is not essential for a woman to undergo counselling in these circumstances but the option is there if it is required. After 20 weeks of pregnancy a woman can only undergo an abortion in order to save her life.

Useful Resources

Births, Deaths and Marriages
PO Box 31203
Lower Hutt 5040
New Zealand
Tel: 0800 22 52 52 (New Zealand only)

Mothers and Midwives Associated (MAMA)
1 Taylors Road
Mt Albert/St Lukes
Tel: 09 815 8108

Read more about this country

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