Plans for a dedicated maternity nurse to help every new mother in her home during her baby's first week of life are being considered by the Tories. Based on the system in the Netherlands, the plan would give mothers specialist help for up to six hours a day. The nurses would advise on bathing and breastfeeding, as well as monitoring babies' vital early development.So far so good, and this reflects the sort of support that health visitors already provide on a much more limited scale. At face value, I am sure that many mothers, particularly single mothers, would value the support suggested and gain much from it. But the BBC story goes on to quote the Tory shadow children's secretary Michael Gove:
"If we can provide a better level of support for parents in the first months, we may be able to help crack some of the problems of inequality and social mobility which hold us back as a country..."
So, is the suggested support really being provided to help the mother and the baby (ie the social support of the structures of the state being at the service of the person, which would be very much in the spirit of Catholic social teaching) or is it really being provided primarily to help the economic interests of the state (ie the interests of the person being subservient to those of the state, a principle that is essentially tyrannical)? If the mother already has 2.1 children, will part of the support be insistent advice on contraception? Will it include pressure (sorry, advice) on returning to work? And once the system is in place, who will govern the terms of reference of the support being provided, so that they do not creep into areas not originally expected?