Knesset committee: New moms need more attention

Azaria: Women don’t want to be separated from their babies, doctors often dismiss complaints.

NURSES TAKE CARE of newborn infants at a nursery in Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem. (photo credit: REUTERS)
NURSES TAKE CARE of newborn infants at a nursery in Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
After giving birth, women do not get enough medical attention as they are busy with their babies, who demand round-the-clock attention.
Knesset Status of Women Committee chairwoman MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash) said on Tuesday that the health system does not give adequate attention to new mothers’ health. The discussion was initiated by Kulanu MK Rachel Azaria.
Touma-Sliman said that men set the direction for medical research, and they are less aware of or interested in women’s health problems.
“We don’t want medicine to be oblivious to gender,” she said. “We want special attention to women, with medical care taking into account the physiological and social differences between the sexes.” In Arab society, the MK said, women get special attention up to 40 days after giving birth. “When I wanted to go back to work in less time, my mother said not to do it. I very much hope that what was clear to my mother is also clear to the Health Ministry.”
Azaria said that 40 percent of the problems that arise in women from pregnancy until the period after birth occur after delivery. Seventy-seven percent of women’s deaths that occur from pregnancy until after childbirth occur in the period after childbirth.
One would expect the figures to be much lower. Even when a woman presents a medical complaint after birth, there is a good chance that the doctor will just blame it on the fact that her body “has to recover” from delivery.
New mothers rarely go to emergency rooms in hospitals, because they don’t want to be separated from their babies, Azaria continued. “This is a sensitive period that must be considered.”
She recalled the tragedy of a friend of hers who died from a pulmonary embolism on the day her infant son underwent a ritual circumcision. The doctors did not recognize the symptoms.
Another case involved a woman who suffered from cerebral edema that was not picked up by doctors after her delivery.
Prof. Mordechai Dolitzky, head of obstetrics at Sheba Medical Center, said that doctors and researchers – and even mothers – pay less attention after the baby is born. Blood clots occur in the mother 10 times as frequently as before and during pregnancy. There are also infections, hemorrhages, edemas and anemias. The period after giving birth is also high risk.”
The committee chairman noted that the period that women are hospitalized after delivery – barely two days – has declined over the years. Dr. Firas Haik, a Health Ministry coordinator of special events, said that when a woman dies during or just after pregnancy, the tragedy must be reported officially within 24 hours. “We set up a special team to investigate and deal with it. Happily, we don’t hear of many cases – six in all of 2015 and only two so far this year,” he said. “We want to amend our directives so that even a serious incident that does not involve a death should also be reportable.
He added that while the situation in the main cities is very good, Beduin women in the South, for example, do not have adequate access to medical care for these problems.
Prof. Drorith Hochner, head of obstetrics at Hadassah University Medical Center on Mount Scopus, said that the period after childbirth “is not neglected.
Treatment in the hospital is excellent, and discharge papers give much detailed information.
I think it’s more important to increase the number of hours for physiotherapy to strengthen the mother’s pelvic floor and for identifying postnatal depression.”