Birthing Centre Newsletter April 2019

Newsletter April 2019

Birthing Centre Newsletter | April 2019

In this issue

Introducing Belinda Wawatai

Nga Hau Māngere Birthing Centre Opening Event


Letter from the founder 

Dear all,

I have thought long and hard before I wrote this letter. Not because I am looking for inspiration but because I find there is so much inspiration. What is most important to mother’s wellbeing, why a society, and successive governments are so often failing mothers, our children, the family? How we grow good to be great.
Dame Whina Cooper said: “Take care of our children. Take care of what they hear, take care of what they see, take care of what they feel. For how the children grow, so will be the shape of Aotearoa.”

What the children hearsee, and feel is most influenced by their first teachers – those who would love them most; their mothers and fathers. It is crucial that mothers get the best support possible from the outset of pregnancy, through birth, and those first days post-birth. In an ever-changing world, dads can be confused about their role of supporting the mother and the impact he has on his child by those first and lasting bonds he and baby experience.

We, at Birthing Centre, recognise women’s choice of birth, their legal right to at least 48 hours postnatal care and the role of midwife to guide, keep safe, and support mother and baby. We offer our support to the family in all areas we are able, to achieve best outcomes for mother, baby, and whānau.

So, for me, the most important message through the upheaval of these heavy times, is to focus my lens on a society that respects and learns from the myriad of cultures we in New Zealand can learn from. We may have different ways of ‘being’ but our need to be nurtured when we are most vulnerable as new mothers, is universal.

The blessing and opening of Nga Hau Māngere Birthing Centre has been a journey of faith, hope, and hard work. The centre plans to be operational on May 6, after clinical midwife manager Letitia Taihia (Tish) has formed her team and our administrator, midwives, and support people have been oriented to the philosophy, goals, culture, and practice of this midwife-led primary unit.

So, midwives, get your access agreements, book your mothers in and let’s work toward a great relationship with you, our mothers, and our team at Nga Hau Māngere Birthing Centre. This is an opportunity for us to work in partnership with Counties Manukau DHB to further both our goals to attain best outcomes for the South Auckland community of mothers, babies, and whānau.
The early morning blessing attended by the different iwi of the area imbued a deeply spiritual significance to the building, and in the wake of the Christchurch massacre, opened a window for a future of oneness among our people. The people who attended the opening, too many to name, brought so much aroha within the walls, and that energy will remain long after the crowd has gone.

Our women who birth there will birth within walls that have been touched with the kindness of many human spirits and that makes us safe.

A beautiful young Māori woman and I sat in one of the rooms alone. She asked me 'what does it cost to have a baby here?' I said ‘nothing’. She then asked me 'do you have to pay when you leave?' I said 'no'. She said 'Māori women will never believe this is for them.' I said 'this is equality and best care for all women'.

I felt sad that she was made to feel that way.

Tangata ako ana i te kaenga, te turanga ki te marae, tau ana.
A person nurtured in the community contributes strongly to society.

I can hardly wait for our Milk Café to be up and working in Māngere. For those who don’t know, we began our Milk Café in our other Birthing Centres, starting at Bethlehem, Tauranga. We are open to any mother feeding her baby, she need not have birthed with us. We will have a lactation consultant to share information, answer any questions, and introduce mothers and babies to each other. For me, not being a midwife or LC, the greatest joy is in knowing mothers who are often lonely, isolated, unsure of what is happening, can connect with each other and form lasting relationships to unite families. You will meet once a week for a couple of hours in our AROHA room where there will be morning tea and time to chat and share insights. All we ask is that you reach out to anyone else who might benefit from this peer group and welcome them in. It is for mothers and babies only. I am afraid we would not have room to extend to other family members. Here is a letter we received from a dad:

“Walking out the door to go to work was damn hard. Not because I only had two hours of sleep as I was awake trying to soothe a baby with colic. Not because work was particularly demanding. It was hard because I was leaving my loving, determined, but ultimately lost wife to manage all by herself for the day with no local support, not having a mum alive to vent to, and few friends in this new town. It felt like I was leaving a scared girl at the bottom of a dark cold cave. Alone. 

“Then one day she came along to Milk Café and met you, and when I got home that day her face was light, and it had a smile on it! It wasn’t that you gave some miracle advice, or that you joined her pity-party, it was how you gave this only child from the other side of the world the kind of support she might get from a big sister. Pragmatic, down to earth, human help. Heartfelt thanks. Dad.”

Some say the ‘community’ no longer exists. Of course it does! You and I are it ❤️.

Let kindness be our guide,

Chloe Wright
CEO, Birthing Centre

Nga Hau Māngere Birthing Centre

The opening of Nga Hau Māngere Birthing Centre featured on both Maori Television
Māori mothers to benefit from new South Auckland 'safe haven'
and Newshub
Funding needed for south Auckland birthing centre
and was captured in some of these images:


Belinda Wawatai

Belinda Wawatai has been ‘catching babies’ for six years - one of the most recent in the corridor of Bethlehem Birthing Centre.

“I was showing mum to her room when baby decided to come there and then in the corridor. I didn’t even have time to put my gloves on,” she laughs.

Belinda has been a staff midwife at Bethlehem Birthing Centre for two and half years after initially working as a lead maternity carer (LMC). Before deciding to train as a midwife she worked as a phlebotomist, or laboratory technician, and a natural therapist.

“I’ve always worked in healthcare and have four children of my own. I feel like midwifery chose me. It’s lovely having those connections with families and sharing that very special time with them.”

She’s lost count of the number of babies she’s delivered over the years and says she has always found saying goodbye to her mums and babies quite difficult.

“I grow so fond of them. I feel lucky to still be making those rewarding connections here at Bethlehem Birthing Centre, and sometimes that’s over months of a woman’s pregnancy or within minutes of a woman walking in the door.”

Belinda is passionate about primary care and often believes ‘less is more’.

“We are there to support the women in what they and their babies already know how to do, rather than interfering. Working at Birthing Centre allows us the time and quiet space to enable that to happen naturally.

“Some people have commented on how lucky I am to be a midwife, spending time cuddling new babies, but in reality, we are also fully-trained medical professionals, always on alert to provide the necessary care required to ensure the safety of mothers and their babies.”

With the support of Birthing Centre, Belinda is currently training to become a lactation consultant to complement her role as a midwife.

“I want to offer continuity of care rather than having to refer to another specialist care provider.”

In her spare time Belinda regularly climbs Mount Maunganui, heading up at least twice a week. “If my husband thinks I’m being grumpy he’ll send me off for a walk,” she laughs.

She is also an amateur painter and has recently taken up classes.

“I’ve just finished painting a kookaburra for my Dad, which was fun. I find painting very relaxing. I think of it as incidental mindfulness.”

All mothers have a birthing story, and while each is unique, there are often similarities, and it’s nice to know you’re not alone when it comes to facing some of the challenges that come with being a new mum. Here is Gema’s birthing story:

Gema Martin – mother of two, both born at Tauranga Hospital.

“I had really good births for both of my children. I put that down to having a good midwife. I laboured in water at the hospital on Christmas Eve with my son, but I got out to birth and had him naturally. I tried a bit of gas earlier on, but I didn’t like the feeling. [Bethlehem] Birthing Centre wasn’t open then and it was Christmas Day, so I just wanted to go home. I didn’t feel like they were pushing me out and my son was feeding fine.

“We had a photographer there for the birth of my daughter. I used the [birthing] pool again and a swiss ball. I remember feeling really relaxed but maybe that was because the photographer was there, and I was trying to keep it together! I had her about an hour after arriving at the hospital. It was amazing. I think if every woman had a birthing story like mine there’d be a lot of women having a lot of kids!

“I stayed at the hospital the first night but transferred to Birthing Centre the next day. It was luxury! It was a good stepping stone to hang out with my daughter and not have to focus on both children. I was able to bond with her and make sure feeding was all good. As soon as you get home people want to visit, but if you’re not there, people are happy to stay away for a few days and wait until you get home. I had a problem with her choking on mucus and it was nice to have someone come and reassure me that everything was okay, and that I was doing it [breastfeeding] right. It’s nice not to have to think about anything except feeding your baby. I lay in the bath and felt like I was on holiday!

Gema later donated some of her breast milk to a friend with premature twins. “I was happy to help.”

If you would like to share your birthing story, please contact Kerry, email:

Empowering New Zealand Women

We all know the first 48 hours after a baby is born can be particularly hard, when, in fact, it should be the most exciting time as the journey into parenthood begins.

It is a time for love, interaction and attachment. It is a time that allows mothers and fathers to learn skills and gain confidence as parents. It is a time for monitoring the health and wellbeing of a mother and her baby. 

But many of us don’t really know why postnatal care in a supportive environment is important, why we should choose to stay and not go home, and what our entitlement to funded postnatal care is.

Mothers Matter aims to change that. 

Currently, every woman and her baby are entitled to receive up to 48 hours of funded in-patient postnatal care. However, research shows, and mothers tell us, that women and their families are often not aware that it is their right, no matter what type of birth they have had, to stay in the maternity facility for 48 hours. They are often encouraged, or even urged, to leave this care early.

We completely understand that every mother is different and while some women will be comfortable leaving the hospital or maternity facility to go home, others won’t be ready.

What’s important is that women and their families can make an informed choice about their postnatal care and feel empowered about speaking up. To do this they need to know what their entitlement is, and what the benefits are from receiving the right level of postnatal care in the right place.

While all women have the right to birth at the place of their choice, they don’t currently have the right to choose where they stay for their postnatal care – whether it’s a hospital or a dedicated maternity facility. This choice is not made by a new mum or her family, it’s made by her DHB which means where you go and what type of care you get completely depends on the area you live in. 

Mothers Matter believes this is inadequate and unfair and must change. 

To find out more about why the first 48 hours after a baby is born is so important visit our website, or you can find us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

You can also contact us via email:

We have a collective responsibility to nurture our families and facilitate the best, most positive and most confident start for a mother, her baby and her family and we would really welcome your support.

News from our centres


Bethlehem Birthing Centre’s Thursday Milk Café sessions have moved to a later time.

After finding many mums weren’t turning up until slightly later in the morning, it was decided to move from a 9.45-11.30am session to a 10.30am-12.30pm session.

Staff midwife Belinda Wawatai, who is studying towards a lactation consultant qualification (and featured in this month’s Meet the Team profile), is available for the first hour of the session for any questions or assistance and then mums are free to socialise and talk among themselves.

The slightly extended length of the session also gives mums more time to build those friendships that are so important.

The group is held in the centre’s downstairs education room. Attendance is casual, and morning tea is provided. No need to book, just turn up.

Te Papaioea

Te Papaioea Birthing Centre is now a primary health provider in the MidCentral District Health Board region for women experiencing nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. 

Women can be referred to Te Papaioea Birthing Centre midwives for assessment and rehydration as a short day stay. Four other GP practices offer this MCHDHB-funded service in our region and we are excited to now offer our facility to pregnant women experiencing nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.

Find us online

Our website,, is a great port of call for anyone who wants to find out more about primary birthing, our philosophy and service.

You can also find previous issues of our newsletter here

Check out our Facebook pages too:
Bethlehem Birthing Centre:
Te Papaioea Birthing Centre:
Te Awakairangi Birthing Centre at Melling:
Nga Hau Māngere Birthing Centre:

Quote of the day

Ko te whaea te takere o te waka.”

(Mothers are like the hull of a canoe, they are the heart of the family.)

 Māori proverb



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Our mailing address is:
PO Box 13 465 Tauranga Central 3141

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