Having just had a baby in New Zealand, I think that welcoming new people to the world (when they are a wanted baby that is) is something that New Zealand does pretty well.  I am not someone who expects anything for nothing and I feel that during my pregnancy, labour and first few weeks of having my baby I have received a good service for my taxpayer dollar.  There were many checks and balances in place for the wellbeing of myself and my child. 

These started with free maternity care from my midwife (my husband and I happily deleted this expense from our budget – free?! we were surprised).   While I paid for my antenatal course because I wanted to join the Parents Centre, there are free antenatal classes offered by the hospital to prepare you for birth.  Then, when the big day came, Auckland hospital offered a wonderful birthing suite with 180 degree views of Auckland harbour for my husband to enjoy.  It was the most incredible revelation that a fully and perfectly developed 8 pound 3 baby was tucked up in my stomach.  It was almost too much of a miracle to believe until then.

We then moved onto Birthcare where we enjoyed wonderful food and impeccable service from well-trained and incredibly supportive midwives.  From feeding to bathing, we were given a range of skills – although did still wonder why they were letting us take him home on our own after three nights!  However, we were comforted that we would be visited at home by our midwife the very next day.  You are then supposed to receive six free visits from your midwife at home in the first four weeks or so of your baby’s life, after which time you are handed over to Plunket to have their nurses visit you in your home.  My plunket nurse was lovely, albeit obviously trained to interview you to make sure you and your baby are safe and not being beaten by any men in your household! 

In addition, there are free courses on sleeping and feeding available at the Plunket centre which I was advised about, as well as Plunketline which you can call at any time of the day and night with any question about your baby at all.  We have also already had need for a trip to the local A&E because we wanted to ensure a mild virus and rash was nothing serious – another free visit where we received fantastic and almost immediate service from the doctors and did not have to wait in line given our little one’s age and weak immune system.  We then paid a mere $2 for our prescription.  Again, I am not someone who is used to receiving government services, but I thought all that was pretty good and indicates that in New Zealand we really value babies and new life.

In fact, most of the Western world is very welcoming and protective of new babies coming into the world – for the vast majority of people new life is looked on as a great joy and we are very concerned about any abuse or neglect of new babies (and unfortunately I have to make the proviso of wanted babies again, as oddly and incongruently, while providing very protective services and checks and balances for wanted babies, killing unwanted babies is also something we do well in the Western world.  I was almost surprised that my baby was looked after so well from conception and the very beginning of my pregnancy with scans and great concern about the foods I should eat – all you ever seem to hear from ‘society’ (or does that just mean the media!) is that they are not really a person until some vague and unspecified developmental milestone).  While I can’t speak from experience about other countries, I can say well done New Zealand on the way you welcome new life to the world.

Shannon Roberts

Shannon Roberts is co-editor of MercatorNet's blog on population issues, Demography is Destiny. While she has a background as a barrister, writing has been a life-long passion and she has contributed...