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Palmerston North birthing centre gets the green light

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Palmerston North birthing centre gets the green light

Palmerston North is set to have its first ever birthing centre after years of debate over whether such a facility was needed in the city.

The 12 suite, purpose-built Te Papaioea Birthing Centre will provide its services for free to low-risk mothers eligible for care in New Zealand hospitals. 

The centre, the second to be built and funded by Tauranga-based Wright Family Trust, will be designed to birth babies in the most comfortable fashion possible.

Co-founder and chief executive Nicky Campbell said while the trust would continue funding the construction, she was continuing discussions with the MidCentral District Health Board over funding.

Campbell's Bethlehem birthing centre was part of a DHB feasibility study released in November last year after which it was decided that Palmerston North was good place to open up another centre.

The exact funding needed to build the Palmerston North site was not yet known but the Bethlehem centre cost between $5 to $6 million to construct.

The centre is the first of its kind in Palmerston North with the only other primary birthing facilities in the MidCentral region being located in Levin and Dannevirke. 

"It really aligned with what we're doing. it's giving mums an option that is close to being at home," she said.

However, it had the support people might expect in a hospital. "I suppose a birthing centre offers that middle road."

The centre will be on Ruahine St, close to Palmerston North Hospital.

News of the centre's imminent arrival was met with widespread support from parenting groups, midwives and mothers in the city.

MidCentral maternity and midwifery adviser Cheryl Benn, who played a part of the feasibility study, said the centre would relieve pressure from the hospital because healthy women, who did not need the intensive hospital support, would be able to use the space,

It would also free up beds for those who really needed the secondary care, she said.

"We've been looking at it for a number years. I think it's a really good initiative and I'm happy to support."

Palmerston North Parents' Centre child birth educator Jenny Warren said it would be a welcome addition to the city.

Each mother would be able to have their own room for up to three nights, where she could give birth and receive post-natal care.

Each suite would include a queen bed, ensuite with a bath capable of being used as a birthing pool and a television with Skype. 

Warren said the physiological benefits of the father being able to stay for a night would be attractive to mothers.

Fathers are typically unable to stay overnight in the Palmerston North Hospital.

"Over 24 hours a massive amount of bonding occurs. It allows for a strengthened relationship from the start."

The centre is expected to employ 27 staff, including full-time and on-call midwives, support staff, cleaning staff and a chef. 

Construction will begin early next year and it is expected to be open in November. 

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