Desperate midwives helping poor families from their own pocket

Baby dad
The Salvation Army says the problem is getting worse. Photo credit: Getty

Midwives across the country say they're using their own money to help new mums provide for their babies.

On home visits, they say they're coming across more and more homes where there's simply not enough food and clothing.

When one mother Newshub spoke to gave birth two months ago, she had no idea how pricey her little bundle of joy would be.

"I was told, but I didn't realise just how expensive it was," the mother, who asked not to be named, said.

She and her husband can afford the basics, but it's the extra things like vitamins and midwife appointments they struggle with.

"We're finding it okay at the moment, but I know there's a lot of other people out there that aren't," she says.

Her midwife has stumped up for some of their needs, using her own hard-earned cash. She's also offering her ongoing support, free of charge.

"I'll buy things like supplements for women who can't afford them - things like witchhazel, magnesium; all of those things that might seem like an extra to a parent but actually make a big difference," Naomi Golding says.

The midwife estimates she spends a few hundred dollars a month on her clients. Sadly, it's a scenario midwives across the country are facing.

"Midwives are buying food, petrol vouchers, basic groceries for families who they're turning up to their homes and finding nothing there," says College of Midwives' midwifery advisor Alison Eddy.

And the Salvation Army says it's getting worse.

"People's cost of living in general has got higher," says spokesperson Major Pam Waugh.

"Housing is one of the biggest presenting issues of families that we work with. Food prices have doubled in the past few months with the cost of veggies."

According to the BNZ, a baby costs on average around $300 a week - nearly $16,000 a year.

For those on the minimum wage, that's around half their annual income gone on just the one child.

"This is an issue for the wider society really. It's not the midwives' responsibility to do this, they feel they need to because they're working in these homes and seeing the conditions that families are living in - but this is an issue for the Government to take on," Ms Eddy says.