Is being pregnant so expensive that it validates a maternity aid grant?

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  • At least 120 countries around the world provide paid maternity leave and health benefits to pregnant women.
  • Excluding the cost of prenatal visits, ultrasounds and blood tests, childbirth costs around R25,000 in private hospitals.
  • The government maternity support grant is being discussed by the Ministry of Social Development, and the expected amount is at least R624.

Experts emphasize the importance of the first 1000 days of a child’s life, 270 of which occur during pregnancy. This means that if the fetus does not receive sufficient care and nutrients during this period; anything can go wrong in their development.

Because pregnant women eat, breathe and exist on behalf of another developing human being, they need healthy food, transportation to get to the hospital for checkups, prenatal care and a strong spirit to carry the pregnancy to term.

But truth be told, too many mothers go to bed hungry for lack of financial resources, which also harms the development and health of the child.

Read: ‘The more people in your area, the better’: Moms talk about their experience with a doula

News24 interviewed Karen Wilmotan experienced midwife, to tell us about the cost of pregnancy and why she thinks there is a need for a Maternity Support Bursary for pregnant women.

She explains that pregnant women need to cover the cost of a few essential maternity clothes like leggings, baggy tops, underwear, comfortable shoes, prenatal vitamins, prenatal appointments, blood tests and ultrasounds during the pregnancy.

“The South African health system allow all nursing mothers and all children under the age of six to access free health services in any public hospital. If complications arise during delivery, they will be transferred to an upstream hospital,” adds Wilmot.

She says data from medical aid schemes show that the average cost of natural childbirth in a private hospital is around R25,000, including two to three days in hospital.

“If your baby is book caesarean section, the cost climbs to between R38,000 and R44,000, not including the cost of prenatal visits, ultrasounds and blood tests, unforeseen expenses of absence from work, particularly in early pregnancy, and home visits. a physiotherapist or chiropractor for routine reasons. discomforts of pregnancy,” adds Wilmot.

Read also : I gave birth – why do I still look pregnant?

Is a pregnancy allowance a reasonable idea?

We asked Wilmot if she thinks it’s reasonable for pregnant women to apply for grant support during this difficult time.

“Yes, absolutely,” she replied.

the first 1000 days refers to the life of a child from the time they are conceived until they have reached the age of 2, and this is a time when their brain, body and immune system are growing and grow significantly, and so women carrying these little ones need as much support as possible.

The midwife also thinks that offering this support to pregnant women could help reduce rates of postnatal depression and also reduce the number of children affected. stunted growth in South Africa.

The introduction of a pregnancy allowance is not as revolutionary as it seems: a report Maternity Protection at Work by the International Labor Office reveals that most industrialized countries have provided paid maternity leave and health benefits since the early 1900s.


If you have a question for a midwife, send an email to [email protected] and we’ll be asking Karen Wilmot to share her expertise with us.


We also reached out to Nonkululeko Mbuli, one of the Maternity Support Grant advocates from kisswhich explains to us why it is essential to sign the Maternity Support Grant petition, how much the grant should be and what happens if the pregnancy is terminated prematurely.

Mbuli says that for cash assistance to make a meaningful difference in the lives of pregnant women and their unborn children, the income support grant during pregnancy must be in line with the inflation-adjusted national poverty line , which was R624 last year.

How did the public react?

“We observed a range of responses when it comes to the issue of income support for pregnant women,” says Mbuli. “The responses varied from unconditional support for maternity benefit to outright rejection of the suggestion to improve economic support for pregnant women.”

Indeed, “as a society we tend to stigmatize pregnant women and treat them as the perpetrators of their situation, which in many cases we know couldn’t be further from the truth” , says Mbuli.

“We cannot punish women and their children for the powerlessness or lack of agency, inequality and gendered power dynamics that we as a society have created,” Mbuli argues, adding that supporting and caring for pregnant women during a time of heightened vulnerability is our collective responsibility.

Mbuli tells us that civil society has been engaging the government on the Maternity Support Grant for some time.

“The Department of Social Development has advised that the Maternity Support Grant is under discussion. We encourage members of the public to participate in the public consultation process once details become available. Please also consider adding your signature to the petition,” added Mbuli. .

The Maternity Support Grant petition is available at Amandla.mobi.

Must read: Local parents comment on who is more expensive to raise – girls or boys?

When should the grant start and end?

“The grant should be made available to women who have access to public health facilities and should be available to them as soon as their pregnancy is confirmed,” Mbuli said.

“What we envision is that income support will be available during pregnancy and for a short period after childbirth,” she adds.

“We know that currently many eligible recipients of child support only seek it after the first year of the child’s life. This is far too late in the crucial first 1000 days,” says- she.

“So it’s important to improve and embed the processes that enable early use of the grant.”

Mbuli says the physical and mental recovery after a miscarriage or stillbirth differs for every woman, and she would like the grant to cover the recovery period, just as it would also be extended to women who have just given birth, for a period of time. . postpartum.

Are you in favor of the idea of ​​a maternity allowance? Let us know and register here: Amandla.mobi

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