Media Coverage

New Guidelines for Birthing Centre

Sun Live

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New guidleines for birthing centre


The increasing popularity of Bethlehem Birthing Centre with Tauranga mothers has necessitated the facility to clarify its guidelines around post-natal stays.

The facility, which is run as a social enterprise by Birthing Centre, last month celebrated three years since opening.

Its success has inspired a second birthing unit, which opened in Palmerston North in November, with a third centre to open in Wellington in the New Year and another in South Auckland late 2018.

Birthing Centre is owned and supported by registered charitable trust the Wright Family Foundation.

Birthing Centre founder Chloe Wright says the 12-suite Tauranga birthing centre has been embraced by both mothers and midwives, providing another choice in where they want to give birth.

The facility has always had post-natal guidelines in place, but previously it had been able to offer its services beyond the guidelines.  This meant mothers had been able to choose to birth at Bethlehem Birthing Centre or to use the service only for their post-natal stay.

But its popularity means that from March 20, the centre will no longer be able to blanket-offer post-natal stays to women who have not birthed at the facility. Some exceptions apply.

“We opened Bethlehem Birthing Centre as part of a vision to give best care to mothers and babies, and to provide a choice and support for women who can give birth without intervention,” says Chloe.

“Due to the increase in the numbers of women birthing at the centre, which is fantastic, our post-natal focus and priority now must be on the women who are booked for birth, and those who began labour at the centre but transferred out.

“We have recently had situations where we have had to turn away women who were booked to birth at the unit, as our rooms were occupied by women who have had a primary birth at the hospital and transferred to us for their post-natal stay.”

Bethlehem Birthing Centre is a primary birthing unit for healthy pregnant women who do not expect interventions. Evidence consistently suggests that healthy women with a low-risk pregnancy who labour and deliver in a primary birthing facility have better outcomes for both mother and baby.

From March 20, women with no risk factors who choose to birth at Tauranga Maternity Unit will no longer be able to have free post-natal stay at Bethlehem Birthing Centre. This is in line with DHB initiatives to have primary birthing out of secondary units. This will now be self-funded and based on availability of beds.

Effective immediately, priority must go to the women who have booked to birth at the birthing centre, and then the women who need to return to the centre after having to transfer to Tauranga Maternity Unit during their labour.

“All women who birth at Bethlehem Birthing Centre will still be able to stay for two nights post-birth, plus their birth night, free of charge,”says Chloe.

“Mothers who start the birth process at the centre but who require a transfer to Tauranga Hospital will be the next priority, and will also be able to stay at the birthing centre for two nights free of charge.”

If a woman is deemed as having a high-risk pregnancy under the Ministry of Health Referral Guidelines and needs to birth at Tauranga Maternity Unit, she may recover at the birthing centre for two nights’ post-natal care free of charge, if a room is available.

Such circumstances would include twin pregnancies or medically required caesarean sections, and this needs to be discussed with the Clinical Midwife Manager prior to the delivery.

The Bay of Plenty District Health Board may also refer women who have required secondary care and have birthed at Tauranga Maternity Unit, to receive free post-natal care at the birthing centre.

This arrangement will be made between the Clinical Midwife Manager from the Tauranga Maternity Unit and the Birthing Centre.

Bethlehem Birthing Centre provides substantial post-natal care, including support with breastfeeding and baby care.

“Our breastfeeding rates are extremely high, with 98 per cent of mothers leaving the centre exclusively breastfeeding, and we pride ourselves on providing staffing and equipment above and beyond the legal requirements,” says Chloe.

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