What we do
One Mother to Another knows that taking care of a hospitalised child is one of the most stressful and difficult tasks a parent can face. In light of the substantial anxiety and social, mental and physical stresses involved, our care packs aim to offer support in a particularly vulnerable time.
Research has found that parents of premature babies, in particular mothers, are at risk of developing higher levels of anxiety, depression, anger and stress. The research further states that “starting to support parents of preterm children from the very first moment after birth in order to reduce possible further negative consequences on preterm babies would be necessary” (IIonio, Chiara et al. 2016). Other studies have shown that thinking about their babies as sick and in danger is very stressful for parents, and it may bring them to an emotional crisis (Alkozei et al., 2014; Franck, Cox, Allen, & Winter, 2005).
We primarily give care packs to mothers as they more commonly experience significantly higher stress compared to fathers. This includes anxiety, guilt, loss of control, helplessness, fear, uncertainty, disappointment, alienation, sadness and other negative emotions related to an unexpected parenting role and the poor health of her newborn. Parents need extra assurance during this period, which comes from the medical professionals working with their child but we believe the empathy and kindness of another parent can also have a significantly positive impact on the concerned parent.
Maternal mental health is an ongoing challenge in NZ with around 15% of mothers suffering from postnatal depression. According to the NZ government’s Healthy Beginnings report, the onset of mental illness for women has been shown to be higher around the time of childbirth, and that maternal mental illness in the postpartum period has been shown to have a detrimental effect on the emerging mother-infant relationship and other family and whānau relationships (Ministry of Health. 2012. Healthy Beginnings: Developing Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Services in New Zealand).
Where We Began
One Mother to Another was started by two Christchurch mothers who personally experienced the distress and fear of having a child in hospital and became determined to ease the burden on others in that position.
In 2016, mother-of-two Christina Buckland took her toddler Arabelle to the GP to check what she thought was just a nappy rash. The GP rushed the pair to Christchurch Hospital’s Children’s Acute Assessment Unit for further testing for possible meningitis. Thankfully it wasn’t meningitis, but it was very a stressful, emotional and difficult day. While in hospital, Arabelle was given an age appropriate ‘goodie’ bag full of things to entertain her. It gave Christina the idea to put a package together for the mum or carer in an effort to encourage them and improve their day too. A few weeks later Christina personally made 10 gift bags and delivered them to the ward for the nurses to distribute.
Her friend Joy Reid (also familiar with the perils of having a child in hospital) thought it was a great idea and the pair began asking local businesses for support. Together they grew the initiative into a charity which regularly provided hundreds of gift bags each month for mums and carers in Christchurch’s Children’s Acute Assessment Unit and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The focus on neonatal units came about because Joy Reid’s son and daughter spent their first days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
One Mother to Another has always been built on personal experience and has, over the years, continued to grow. It is now lead by Joy Reid who, having re-experienced the trauma of having a child in hospital with her third child in 2021, has expanded the provision of care packs to include more wards, including paediatric medical and surgical wards.
Joy and Geoff Reid are supported by a board, small staff and a team of dedicated volunteers who are committed to easing the burden on those in hospital with a child.