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Birthing Centre celebrates four years of service

Sun Live

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Birthing centre celebrates four years of service

Chloe Wright.

Bethlehem Birthing Centre celebrates its fourth birthday this week, with more than 1340 babies born since it opened and an increasing number of free services for Tauranga families.

Birthing Centre CEO Chloe Wright says the 12-room centre has increased its wrap-around services every year, becoming a community hub meeting the needs of young families.

“As a primary birthing centre, we’ve been delighted to offer pregnant women with uncomplicated pregnancies an option in Tauranga other than birthing in hospital or at home,” says Chloe.

“We also provide, as is the right of women, a post-natal stay of up to two nights for rest, breastfeeding support and mothercraft education.

“But we also see our role as connecting mothers with each other, so they can form strong bonds and friendships and support one another - providing that 'village' to help raise a child,” says Chloe.

Its latest offering, led by Clinical Midwife Manager Sarah Pike, is a Lead Maternity Carer (LMC) Midwifery Service, for healthy pregnant women who are unable to find a midwife to provide their antenatal, labour and delivery care, and who plan to give birth at the centre. This free service started earlier this year in conjunction with BOPDHB in response to the LMC midwife shortage in the area, and includes 24/7 midwifery care and telephone service, the same as any other LMC service.

Referrals can be either from the woman herself, or from another LMC or the District Health Board.

The birthing centre also offers support by way of its free antenatal classes, ‘Mama & Me’ group and Milk Café breastfeeding support group.

“Our Milk Café breastfeeding support group is held every Thursday morning from 9.45am to 11.30am at the centre. It’s open to all breastfeeding mothers and is a chance to meet other mums, have a chat, and ask any questions about breastfeeding,” says Sarah.

"We've found that from the Milk Café and our other groups we're seeing some strong support networks formed, which is fantastic. It’s about community.

“It’s exciting to see the impact the birthing centre is having in the community four years after opening.”

The success of Bethlehem Birthing Centre has been replicated with birthing centres opened in Palmerston North in 2017 and Lower Hutt in 2018, and a fourth - Ngā Hau Mangere Birthing Centre - to open in South Auckland in January 2019.

“Mothers and LMCs in other centres without birthing units have seen what we’re doing at Bethlehem, and are wanting the same service,” says Chloe.

“We have women from other towns and cities emailing us saying, ‘can we have this too?’ We’re so proud that Bethlehem Birthing Centre is making an impact, and now our other centres are too.”

Bethlehem Birthing Centre has been welcomed with open arms by the Tauranga community over the last four years, and its success is a collective effort.

“We have a wonderful team led by Sarah, including staff midwives who care for our mothers and babies, and support the community midwives (LMCs). We have a fantastic relationship with LMCs and the DHB, and are grateful for their continued support,” says Chloe.

“We’re also exceedingly thankful to the mothers and whānau who use our service – it’s an absolute privilege to be part of this precious time in their lives and support maternal mental health.”

The service, which is run as a social enterprise by Birthing Centre, is free to all women who birth at the centre and are eligible for care in New Zealand hospitals, whose pregnancy is considered low-risk primary care.

Birthing Centre is owned and supported by registered charitable trust the Wright Family Foundation, of which Chloe is co-founder and CEO.

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