Nat and I are huge fans of New Zealand’s Plunket. Plunket helped each of us through some tough times.
Personally my breastfeeding experience almost had me beaten. I had struggled for 8 weeks and spent the majority of those first couple of months with mastitis, thrush, cracked and bleeding nipples and in a pool of despair. One day it came to a head. I had spent most of my day in tears after yet another sleepless night with a hungry, crying baby. In desperation I looked at the back of the book I had been given at the hospital. I made my way down the list of helplines, trying La Leche League and other numbers. Finally, I called PlunketLine – Plunket’s free parenting helpline service. I wish I had called it weeks earlier. The Plunket nurse was amazing. She recognised right away that I was spiralling downhill quickly. She took my number, my location and within 10 minutes had called me back with an appointment for the following morning at the local Plunket family centre.
“ Don’t worry about having a shower or breakfast. Don’t worry about what you look like. Turn up in your pajamas if it’s easier. Just pick baby up and come. Be there at 8 – you can feed baby there.”
I took them at their word – literally! I turned up in a state my formally glamorous working-girl self would be disgusted at! PJs with jacket over the top and some awful clog type things. Unshowered and unfed with a crying baby in hand. I was immediately fussed over on arrival. Baby was taken from me and calmed, cups of tea and toast and jam was made. I was made to sit down and to talk them through my struggles. Nobody judged. When I went to show them how I was breastfeeding there was lots of tut-tutting over the state of my breasts. They mothered me and showed me again and again how to get my baby to latch on.
Once baby was fed, I was dispatched to an upstairs bedroom to sleep. It was the best sleep I had in those 8 weeks. I slept comforted by the thought that the Plunket Angels below were looking after my baby. I never forgot how they helped me, bringing me back in to the family centre again and again until they were confident I was out of the woods and back on track. Then, plying me with dinner they waved their farewells and got ready to help the next candidate.
At my time at the family centre I was blown away by how many mums dropped in dinners and baking for the other mums. Then I understood. When I ‘graduated’, I too dropped in dinners and baking for all the mums that came after me.
It’s because of my undying gratitude to Plunket that I was really keen to do something more for Plunket. Nat and I decided that we wanted to donate some of the proceeds from our book to Plunket. Therefore anyone that buys our book via Plunket will be donating a portion of the proceeds to the wonderful people at Plunket. Recently I had the opportunity to interview Benj Berryman, Plunket’s Brand Manager. I wanted to really unveil the story behind Plunket, who they are and how they started. You can hear the whole interview by clicking here. But here’s some of the highlights:
Plunket was established over 100 years ago in Dunedin by child health visionary, Sir Frederic Truby King. His vision was to help mothers and babies who were dying from malnutrition and disease. He established a society to carry forward the vision of a new health regime that would support and educate mothers. Just 8 months later the first Karitane home for babies under 2 years opened, and many more similar hospitals followed. Not only did they provide a safe and caring environment for new and expectant mothers but for young children too.
Nowadays Plunket offer a huge amount of services with their family centres, car seat services, various parenting courses and support groups, and the PlunketLine. Plunket also play a key role in advocating for children’s rights, as well as home and clinic visits in those first few weeks checking everything is well with both mother and baby. But key to Plunket is their pledge to ensure every child in New Zealand will get the best start in life and to provide support to those families in New Zealand that need it most of all.
If you would like to get involved or find out more about Plunket then visit www.plunket.org.nz. If you are feeling vulnerable and need help and support then contact the Plunket helpline on 0800 933 922 – it’s 24/7, free to all parents and caregivers in NZ, and you don’t need to be enrolled with Plunket to use it. For Jacqui’s full interview with Benj Berryman from Plunket NZ click here http://traffic.libsyn.com/ifonlytheydtoldme/126_Plunket.mp3
To buy a copy of our book AND donate to Plunket at the same time, please visit http://bit.ly/IOTTMspfy Please make sure you quote Plunket when you are buying and $5 of your book cost will go directly to Plunket.