Trenton – Furthering Senator M. Teresa Ruiz’s agenda to support new mothers, parents and families, legislation sponsored by Senator Ruiz and Senator Joe Vitale which would provide all New Jersey parents access to one cost-free newborn home visit was signed into law today.
“This legislation was born out of my own personal experience with a lactation nurse who visited my home soon after I gave birth to my daughter. The time spent with her changed my whole outlook. She answered my questions and gave me the reassurance I needed,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “I realized if we could provide a service like this early to new mothers and parents they would have additional support to rely on during what is one of the most challenging periods of parenthood.
“Approximately 52 percent of maternal deaths nationwide occur during the postpartum period and nearly two-thirds of deaths are attributed to preventable causes. Especially because our maternal mortality rate places us among the last in the nation, we must do anything we can to support women and parents. Having a home visit will benefit both the caretaker and the newborn; it is essential in diagnosing conditions before it is too late and connecting parents to the care and assistance they need.”
The law, formerly S-690, requires the Department of Children and Families to establish and implement a universal home visitation program. The program will provide all new parents with a home visit from a registered nurse within the first two weeks following delivery.
“As many as 40 percent of women in the U.S. don’t attend a postpartum visit, meaning they don’t see an OBGYN after leaving the hospital,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “This visit is typically six weeks after the mother gives birth as well, leaving the parents devoid of any formal or informal support during this period. Offering a free home visit will help encourage many more new mothers to seek postpartum care earlier, allowing them to receive any support or treatment needed.”
The visit will include a weight and health check of the newborn, breastfeeding support, an assessment of the physical wellness of the parent and assistance identifying and coping with perinatal mood disorders.
Oregon is the only other state in the nation to provide a universal home visiting program for the families of newborns.