New mums may be discharged from Auckland Hospital just hours after giving birth

Auckland Hospital Maternity Services are warning expectant mums they may be discharged home three to four hours after giving birth.

Those advocating for better maternity care for women say the message to whanau planning for an Auckland Hospital delivery could put women in dangerous situations and take away a mother's right to choose.

Maternity campaigner Jenn Hooper knows more than most mothers how childbirth can go terribly wrong.

Her 18-year-old daughter Charley suffered a massive brain injury after a traumatic labour.

"I'm still spoon-feeding her, she's blind, she can't move a muscle and she doesn't know who I am," she told Newshub.

"Things can go horribly wrong horribly quickly and if you are in the hospital setting that is the only time that you have access to either the people or the equipment."

Those choosing to have hospital births are being asked to reconsider having their baby at Auckland City Hospital and go to a primary care facility like Birthcare, or have their baby at home instead.

"This is an ongoing issue for years now and rather than finding a solution, they're putting it on the women to then change their mind when they've already made a fully informed decision with their healthcare provider, so it's frustrating."

The letter from Te Whatu Ora's Women's Health Team warns mothers-to-be that if you have a baby at Auckland City Hospital, you will either be discharged home or transferred to a maternity hospital three to four hours after giving birth, which Hooper said is too late in the process.

"My understanding too is that the letter is being sent generically. The one that I have seen has been sent to a woman with a previous caesarean that is booked for an elective caesarean because of her previous history.  It's actually dangerous to send this information out just blanketed like this, they haven't even bothered to target the people that may be low risk."

Te Whatu Ora said their hospital discharge time frames are not absolute, and are able to adapt depending on individual circumstances.

In a statement to Newshub, Te Whatu Ora said: "The guidance provided to expectant mothers is not intended to discourage anyone from choosing to give birth at Te Toka Tumai Auckland hospital. Women's Health services at Te Toka Tumai Auckland welcome all māmā and they are able to choose whether they prefer to give birth at the hospital, at another facility which meets their care requirements, or at home."

It added that the faster discharge times are not because of resourcing pressures on their maternity services.

Te Whatu Ora said its advice has been consistent for at least the past four years. The majority of women do opt to have a hospital birth and there is sufficient capacity to accommodate them.

National currently has a Bill before Parliament allowing three days of postnatal care if wanted or needed, to give new parents greater protections and wrap-around support.