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New primary birthing centre for Wellington to open in July


New primary birthing centre for Wellington to open in July

27 June 2018: The greater Wellington region’s first primary birthing centre will open on July 16 in Lower Hutt, providing another choice for birthing women in the region after more than 40 years of mothers requesting this service.

Named Te Awakairangi for the first people to inhabit this area, the centre at Melling will be formally blessed before being opened to birthing mothers.

Te Awakairangi Birthing Centre at Melling is for healthy pregnant women with uncomplicated pregnancies, and will be free for women from the greater Wellington area who are eligible for care in New Zealand hospitals. The centre will also provide, free of charge, to birthing mothers a post-natal stay of up to two nights for rest, breastfeeding support, and mother-baby education.

Chloe Wright, CEO of Birthing Centre Ltd, says studies support how crucial the first few days post-birth are for bonding, rest, and recuperation, for mother’s wellbeing and baby’s attachment.

Fathers, or a support adult are invited to stay at the request of the mother, providing they are ready to support the new mother during this time.

Te Awakairangi is the newest centre for Birthing Centre Ltd, a registered charity supported by the Wright Family Foundation. Bethlehem Birthing Centre in Tauranga opened in 2014, and Te Papaioea Birthing Centre in Palmerston North in 2017.

Mrs Wright, who is also CEO of the Wright Family Foundation, says birthing centres are part of the foundation’s vision to support New Zealand families from the very beginning to have the greatest impact on communities.

“The first 1000 days of a child’s life are a crucial and unique opportunity in their development. Experiences in these early days set the stage for a child’s lifelong health and emotional development. It’s a time of enormous potential, as foundations of brain development, health and growth impact on a child for life. It is imperative a mother gets the best extended care, nurture and education she needs and deserves. Parents are the first teachers - it’s about best beginnings, love and bonding,” says Mrs Wright.

Birthing Centre’s Tauranga and Palmerston North facilities receive financial support from their local District Health Boards (DHBs) and enjoy a collaborative relationship for best outcomes for women who do not need secondary care.

Te Awakairangi Birthing Centre at Melling will initially open with the Wright Family Foundation as its sole funder, but as is the case in Tauranga and Palmerston North, Mrs Wright expects a funding partnership will be formed with both the Hutt Valley District Health Board and the Capital & Coast District Health Board for primary birthing. This enables the DHBs to free capacity for those who need hospital care during birthing.

Wellington Birth Hub has long been lobbying for a birthing centre in the region and welcomes news of the opening.

“Going back more than 40 years, local groups of midwives and mums have tried at various times to encourage the District Health Boards (DHBs) to invest in at least one home-like birth centre,” says Birth Hub spokesperson Vida Rye.

“In the Hutt Valley, the only birth place options have been home or hospital. We know from experience and from the research that healthy, pregnant (low risk) women are safe to birth at home or in a birth centre and they have high levels of satisfaction and increased breastfeeding rates.

“We are excited to see the Melling birthing centre open as soon as possible. To make this long-awaited birthing centre a success, Birth Hub is looking forward to a strong alliance between the Hutt DHB, Birthing Centre Ltd, midwives, mums and their whanau.”

The birthing centre will also act as a community hub, where groups can gather together and support new mothers and families. The Wright Family Foundation is committed to supporting the Parenting Place, SPACE programme and Supergrans Aotearoa in the area.

“At our other birthing centres we connect the community to young mums through holding antenatal groups, breastfeeding support groups and coffee groups, and we will ultimately do the same in Melling to support mothers. It’s about the wellbeing of the whole person, and the answer lies in the community - people connecting to each other and supporting each other,” says Mrs Wright.

“We welcome input from the rich tapestry of our multi-cultural society in how we can best support traditions in birthing practices.”

Pregnant women wanting to give birth at the centre can book in now via a midwife who has an access agreement to use the facility. Midwives will book in their expectant mothers, as they do at the hospital, by the 37th week of pregnancy.

The birthing centre, situated on the corner of Melling and Connolly Streets in Lower Hutt, will employ a team of highly experienced midwives 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to support women. A qualified lactation consultant will be available to support breastfeeding.

Every mother at the facility will have her own room, in which she will give birth and also receive post-natal care. Each room will include an ensuite including a bath that can be used as a birthing pool.


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