1 October 2022 will mark a significant date for women, with ACC coverage finally being extended to include maternal birthing injuries. This change will be life-altering for many women, with 17,000 to 18,000 who will now benefit from having access to healthcare and treatment for permanent health injuries.
Not only will this make the ACC system more equitable and accessible, but it is also a step in advancing the rights and protections of women. Through this change to ACC, the silence, shame, and stigma surrounding pelvic health and birthing injuries will be reduced. We hope that this will place the emphasis back on the wellbeing of mothers and that it will improve their physical and mental recovery from these unwanted injuries.
With treatment and support the impacts of birthing injuries can be alleviated to improve the quality of life for our wahine, allowing them to fully engage in society, return to work, participate in sports and previous hobbies, care for the family unit, and engage in social activities instead of feeling isolated and embarrassed by their injuries or pelvic concerns.
We applaud the mahi of Kirsty Watt and the wider team who championed the petition that demanded improvements to the rehabilitation care of New Zealand women post-birth, it goes to show that petitions do have a significant impact. Without their voice via social media and the likes, this would never have been possible.
Accessing pelvic health physiotherapy
From 1 October 2022, any wahine who has sustained a birth injury will be eligible for pelvic health physiotherapy. It is vital that women with birthing injuries see a physiotherapist who has experience treating these complex injuries. In the majority of cases, that means they need to see a pelvic health physiotherapist who can complete internal examinations as part of their assessment and treatments to monitor their treatment progressions.
It is very unlikely that wahine will be able to access this treatment at a normal physiotherapist practice. Please ask your GP, Lead Maternity Carer, Gynaecologist, or other health professional to refer you onwards to someone who can provide this treatment. You can also
see a list of pelvic health physiotherapist practising in New Zealand here.