A spotlight on Plunket’s pregnancy and parenting services

Published on Wednesday, 26 August 2020
Last updated on Wednesday, 21 October 2020

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Plunket is known for its Well Child/Tamariki Ora nurse visits and PlunketLine parent helpline, but there are many ways that this charitable organisation supports expectant parents, new parents, tamariki and whānau.

To see how the support service provides trusted advice and individualised care to families of under-fives, we spoke with Plunket.

What support is available to pregnant women, and when should expectant parents sign up to Plunket?

Plunket offers Pregnancy and Parenting Education (PPE) across New Zealand which follows the Ministry of Health’s recommendations for pregnancy and parenting education. Each class is run by qualified facilitators who cover topics such as labour and birth, stages of labour, choices during and after birth, pain relief options, infant feeding and newborn care.

Plunket also recently launched a brand-new website, which has a whole section on preparing for your baby. This includes things like health and care during pregnancy, work and financial planning, baby equipment, car seats and preparing for birth.

If you choose Plunket as your Well Child Provider, then your midwife can make the referral. However, we encourage families to sign up as soon as possible and you can do this by using the enrolment form on our website.

Plunket provides care to over 85 per cent of newborns in New Zealand, and your nurses visit families at least eight times from a baby’s first month until they’re about to go to school. Why are these free Plunket visits so helpful, and is there any way that parents can prepare for the visits to get the most out of them?

Parents can prepare for their Plunket visit by thinking about what they’re interested in or worried about, so they can talk to our nurses about it. Think of questions you’d like to ask – remembering that there’s no such thing as a silly question and our nurses are there to help.

Plunket visits include:

  • Getting to know you and checking in with how you’re doing because you matter, too! These visits aren’t just for your tamariki, we care about the whole whānau.
  • Asking what you’d like to get out of the visit. We’re here to support you in ways that work for you and your whānau. We know that each whānau situation is different, and as your baby grows and changes, so will your needs from us – and that’s great! 
  • Different growth and developmental checks. These can include checking your child’s vision, hearing, language and speech development, and taking measurements (e.g. height and weight), so we can support you in tracking their growth and development. 
  • Discussing if there’s any extra support you’d like from us. You might like to make some healthy lifestyle changes or need a hand accessing other support services – and we’re here to help. Plunket works alongside lots of different community support services that we can link you in with, as well as our own community services.

PlunketLine is a free, 24/7 parenting helpline. What are some of the main reasons that parents call the 0800 933 922 number, and how can a Plunket nurse help them over the phone?

The most common calls to PlunketLine are about breastfeeding and needing support, child behaviour (including sleep behaviour and toilet training) and child health and illness, such as when children are sick or parents are concerned that they are unwell.

When you call PlunketLine, your call will be answered by a Plunket nurse who will listen and can give you advice and information to support your child’s health and wellbeing and your parenting journey, linking you where appropriate to local community services.

Our nurses will provide advice over the phone and if you have concerns about your child’s health and wellbeing, they will conduct a health assessment and make a plan in partnership with you.

Plunket also runs parent groups, playgroups and family centres. What are the benefits of these for children and parents, and how can families get involved?

Parent groups, playgroups and family centres are great for developing a child’s social skills and providing opportunities for parents to connect with other parents or care-givers in the community.

Families can find their local groups here, and there are virtual services to suit individual schedules and needs. Coffee groups, playgroups and parenting education are being delivered virtually at the moment.

Plunket provides lots more helpful services, including car seat advice, lactation consultations, toy libraries and mental health support. Are there any new initiatives or special events that parents might not be aware of yet?

Plunket has a long history of supporting families and evolving with the times, and here are three ways that we’re supporting people and raising funds in 2020:

  1. Prioritised Virtual Service

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Plunket launched a prioritised virtual service (PVS) to ensure it could continue to support whānau. This meant Plunket used telephone and video conferencing to support families in their homes, prioritising all families and whānau with newborn tamariki from birth to three months, whānau Māori, Pacific peoples with immediate needs, and all families who really needed us.

Now that New Zealand is in Alert Level 1, Plunket has resumed in-person visits, but will continue to offer virtual visits for those who may prefer this option, working with whānau in a way that suits them and their needs.

  1. Whānau Bundles

Whānau Bundles are the focus of our current Pledge for Plunket campaign – where people can pledge money for a specific item to be added to a bundle of items for a family that has been identified by our clinical staff as needing Plunket’s support the most. These bundles contain a selection of essential items, such as clothing and blankets, and our aim this year is to give out 1,500 of these.

  1. Dunk It For Plunket

A key event that we have just launched is Dunk It For Plunket. This is where people sign up to host a morning tea and raise money through peer to peer fundraising. This runs for the month of August, and Plunket aims to get 200 morning teas hosted and raise $20,000.

The first 1,000 days of a child’s life are crucial for their development and wellbeing. What advice do you have for parents to help them raise healthy, confident and connected children?

Our key advice for parents is to look after yourself and get the support you need to parent.

Parenting can be one of the most rewarding but challenging things we will do in our life. It can feel overwhelming at times as we juggle parenting with other responsibilities, learn how to care for a new baby and work through different advice. However, when you are well supported as a parent, you will be better-equipped to navigate these parenting challenges and stay happy and healthy while you are doing it.

Our children also benefit enormously when we as parents are feeling well and are well supported. You might get support from your friends and whānau, find information online, make new connections through a parenting group or access services like Plunket, and it’s important ask for help if you need it.

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