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Baby industry fight for birthing unit on Nth Shore

Baby industry fight for birthing unit on North Shore

The Waitemata District Health Board (the Board) are considering how to resolve the current bed crisis in maternity at North Shore Hospital.

At the 11 August meeting of the Advisory Committee tasked with making a recommendation on this issue to the Board, members indicated their preference for expanding the current hospital wards and birthing suites, a move the Parents Centre believe is short sighted. The decision was delayed awaiting further information at the next Advisory Committee meeting on Wednesday 8 September. “We believe the Board can lead the way in promoting healthy birthing and the best start to a child’s life by making the decision to provide a Birthing Unit on the North Shore.” says Parents Centre spokesperson, Karen Carson. “North Shore Hospital has alarming intervention rates in birthing, and if they’re serious about tackling that for the health of mothers and babies, the Board needs to provide women with the choice of a natural, active birth in a non-medicalised environment which is conducive to a positive, natural birth and postnatal experience. There are Birthing Units in the Waitemata District Health Board catchment area in Helensville and Warkworth, both of which are a geographically impractical alternative for North Shore women who seek to give birth in such a facility. Other units are located at Birthcare Parnell, Botany Downs and Pukekohe. The North Shore is the only area that provides no access to a Birthing Unit outside of a Hospital environment.

Birthing Units provide women with a non-medicalised environment in which to have their babies and birth is recognised and treated as a normal life event. Women are empowered to give birth with no medical help. Evidence suggests that this is the best way for low risk women to give birth .

A joint research project between South Auckland Health and AUT found that for low risk women it was less safe for them to birth at base hospitals due to the interventions that they are encouraged to have.

The Expert Group on Acute Maternity Services in Scotland carried out an extensive study on birthing centres and listed some of the advantages of birth centres as: increased consumer satisfaction, high midwifery job satisfaction, more midwifery autonomy, empowerment of women, higher normal delivery rates, lower interventions including induction, augmentation, epidural and caesarean rates, shorter labours, less fetal distress, increased chance of successful breastfeeding, cost effectiveness.

Parents Centre have prepared a submission to the Board urging them to fund a Birthing Unit as the solution to the current bed crisis. Their request to speak to the Board about this matter was denied on the grounds that it would be unfair for one interested party to have further say on this matter given the previous consultation process, so they have instead prepared a written submission and gained support for this from many of the health professionals and support groups working in maternity services on the North Shore.

With such widespread support for a Birthing Unit, it is hard to see how the Board could continue to support any alternative solution without a major outcry from the industry they seek to serve.

The submission has support from most of the independent midwives, Parent Port Inc, La Leche League, the Maternity Services Consumer Council,

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