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New Central City Primary Birthing Unit For Christchurch

Norma Campbell, Executive Director - Midwifery and Maternity Services Canterbury and West Coast DHBs, is delighted to announce that a new central city primary birthing unit for Christchurch has been approved by the DHB Board and Minister of Health.

Primary birthing units provide a safe place where healthy pregnant people with no complications can give birth, then stay for a day or two afterwards, supported by family and whānau.

The new unit, which will have four birthing rooms, 20 post-natal rooms, a whānau room, an education room and six assessment rooms, will be located at 68 St Asaph Street by the Christchurch Hospital Campus.

“This is great news for our community as a central city birthing unit is something we have wanted for a long time,” says Norma.

“Māmā who birth in a primary unit, supported by a lead maternity carer (LMC), are more likely to have a normal birth. The units provide a more calming space than a tertiary hospital and the risks of complications are greatly reduced.

“The added bonus of this new facility is that it’s less than five minutes by car to Christchurch Women’s Hospital if a transfer is required.

“For Māori, local midwife-led care in a setting where whānau support is easily accommodated is a cultural expectation, so this new unit also presents an opportunity to improve the equity of our maternity care,” says Norma.

It is anticipated that the new unit will open in early 2023 and that 1000-2400 people will birth there each year.

Noordanus Architects have been engaged to complete the design of the unit, along with a project group to consider the concept plans. The project group includes Canterbury DHB maternity staff and LMCs including Māori midwives, along with Manawhenua Ki Waitaha representatives to ensure we have a culturally appropriate facility and service delivered in a Kaupapa Māori framework.

“It’s incredibly important that we have a more equitable service delivery that better meets the needs of our diverse population,” says Michelle Turrall, chair of Manawhenua Ki Waitaha.

“The design of the unit will reflect tikanga values, to preserve the tapu of childbirth and to keep everyone safe.”

The unit will be staffed by midwives employed by Canterbury DHB alongside LMCs who work in the community to support pregnant people throughout their pregnancy, birth and postnatal care.

The building has been leased by Canterbury DHB and will undergo extensive re-design and fit out to transform it into a welcoming, modern, fit-for-purpose facility for māmā. It has ample parking as well as space to host LMC and obstetrics clinics.

More information about our birthing options in Canterbury can be found here

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