Birthing Centre Newsletter August 2019

Newsletter August 2019


Birthing Centre Newsletter | August 2019





In this issue



The song of a child

Introducing Angela Chapman




Letter from the founder 

Dear all,

On a flight to Wellington I sat behind a mother carrying a baby just four months old. Those around him got to know his name, hear him crying periodically, and between the seats I was privileged to see this mother comfort him, hold him close and softly hum a song. In that moment I would have given anything to go back in time and hold my babies, sing to them, and have that communication through the eyes that speaks volumes.
I have been fortunate. All of our babies (five) have been wanted, sung to and talked to through pregnancy. The joyful anticipation of birth, with time to heal, attach, six days or more in hospital, family and friends to support when I went home. And my births were uncomplicated!
This all occurred in a time when we had a doctor to check us throughout our pregnancies, and nurses to take care of us during our hospital stay. I would have loved to have had the care and support of a midwife that we know walks a very different path, but that was how it was. I am sure I would have learned so much more about my body and choices, but wish as we may, we can never go back.
Moving forward, all the conversation seems to be around the plight of midwives. Midwives leaving in droves, burnout from long hours, conditions not conducive to what they train for - primary birth and care, lack of recognition and recompense. And more. I have tried so hard to bring recognition to the role, not being a midwife, but passionate about what midwives offer women in care.
I have come to realise that putting time and energy into what is central to us all – motherhood - has ceased to be my prime focus. I have wandered off track. Mothers are central to every aspect of wellbeing; for the child, for our future. As adults we must not make ourselves, either individually or as a group, at the centre.
This mother on the plane had her mother with her. There are too many mothers who do not have anywhere near this level of support. Every new baby I am privileged to see I think “What difference will you make in the world?” Studies prove the predictability of outcomes based on that critical attachment of the first 1000 days, including pregnancy. Parents are the first teachers, and we are the support. Love is when we put others before us, and for me, there is no one more valuable, more to be cherished and cared for, than a mother, baby, and whānau.

The song of the child 
Of all the African tribes still alive today, the Himba tribe is one of the few that counts the birth date of the children not from the day they are born nor conceived but the day the mother decides to have the child.

When a Himba woman decides to have a child, she goes off and sits under a tree, by herself, and she listens until she can hear the song of the child who wants to come. And after she's heard the song of this child, she comes back to the man who will be the child's father, and teaches him the song. When they make love to physically conceive the child, they sing the song of the child as a way of inviting the child.
When she becomes pregnant, the mother teaches that child's song to the midwives and the old women of the village, so that when the child is born, the old women and the people gather around and sing the child's song to welcome him/her. As the child grows up, the other villagers are taught the child's song. If the child falls, or gets hurt, someone picks them up and sings their song. Or maybe when the child does something wonderful, or goes through the rites of puberty, then as a way of honouring this person, the people of the village sing his or her song.
In the Himba tribe there is one other occasion when the ‘child song’ is sung to the Himba tribesperson. If they commit a crime or something that is against the Himba social norms, the villagers call that person into the centre of the village and the community forms a circle around them and their birth song is sung. The Himba views correction not as a punishment, but as love and remembrance of identity. For when you recognise your own song, you have no desire or need to do anything that would hurt another.
In marriage, the songs are sung, together. And finally, when the Himba tribesperson is lying in bed, ready to die, all the villagers that know their song come and sing – for the last time that person's song.
“Birth is the sudden opening of a window, through which you look out upon a stupendous prospect. For what has happened? A miracle. You have exchanged nothing for the possibility of everything.” William Macneile Dixon





Angela Chapman

Seeing a pregnant woman and her partner come in, and a family walking out again is something “quite special”, says Te Awakairangi Birthing Centre administrator Angela Chapman.
“I love seeing them start their parenting journey together.”
Angela has worked at Te Awakairangi since the centre opened in July 2018. A mother of two adult children herself, she was attracted to the Birthing Centre philosophy of empowering women to make informed choices throughout their pregnancy and childbirth journey. 
“I’ve always been interested in women’s birthing stories and I think it’s wonderful that women have the option of birthing here.”
Angela is the first person to greet people who walk in the door, and to talk to people who phone the centre. She does everything from making bookings to making a cup of tea for a tired mum or dad and sometimes takes visitors on tours of the centre.
“I haven’t had to catch a baby yet thank goodness,” she laughs. “I love watching the families bond and helping the fathers, who I probably see the most of.”
Prior to working at Birthing Centre Angela taught computer and vocational skills to ACC clients re-entering the workforce after an injury. It was rewarding work for the woman who “likes helping people”.
“It makes me feel good.”
Outside of work hours, animal-lover Angela is in the middle of redecorating her new home and getting ready to re-home a rescue dog.




Ensuring we have a maternity system that works

A maternity system that works for everyone is fundamental to good public health. A woman’s wellbeing, not just during her pregnancy and childbirth, but also during the postnatal period is perhaps the single most important influence on the future health of a child and the mental and physical health and wellbeing of a mother.
We live in New Zealand with a Government whose kaupapa is to make our country the best place in the world for children. Yet we are sadly neglecting the very point in time that will have the most impact – when a child is born.
There are many women who have good birth and postnatal experiences, however the distressing stories about mothers and their babies being forced to leave hospital early and missing out on the postnatal care they are entitled to are becoming more commonplace.
If we are serious about making our country the best place in the world for our children, then we absolutely must put the physical and mental health and wellbeing of our mothers and their babies at the centre of our maternity services.
A key roadblock to achieving this is the way our maternity system is currently funded. It is a complex funding system that is failing many women, their babies, whānau and family.
Where a mother lives shouldn’t determine the level of maternity services she is able to access, yet this is exactly what is happening. Living in a different region or in a rural community should not mean a woman is denied the right to the same maternity services as women in other parts of New Zealand.
Clearly our system is not working and requires change. Mothers Matter is asking the Government to establish a ring-fenced fund for maternity care which would not only shift the focus back to being women and baby-centric, it would ensure we have a maternity system that meets the needs of all women in New Zealand, and they are able to access it at a time that they are most vulnerable.
A ring-fenced fund would put a stop to the current inequities that exist and would take away a DHB’s discretion to choose which maternity facilities they deem suitable to fund.
Not only does a ring-fenced, centrally-managed fund make sense, it’s not actually going to cost our country any more money. Instead it will ensure the funding allocated to maternity services is used for exactly that purpose and will mean our women are provided the best start to motherhood, and their babies the best start to their new life.




Midwives in the media

Māori midwives are currently enjoying a high profile in the media with the screening on TVNZ On Demand of ‘My Māori Midwife’, looking at the Māori midwives empowering women and offering traditional cultural practices to assist them with one of the most significant experiences of their life.

Episode 4 features an inside look at our very own Nga Hau Māngere Birthing Centre and a brief appearance by our CEO, Chloe Wright, talking about her support for midwifery. Well worth a watch!
East Coast midwife Corrina Parata was profiled in this great article on Stuff
as part of its Birth Right investigation into the state of maternity care in New Zealand.
As the only remaining midwife working on the remote East Cape, she talks about traditional Māori birthing practices and the role of whānau in helping to care for mother and baby.




News from our centres

These babies and their mums enjoyed a catch-up at the new postnatal support group being held at BBC with SuperGrans Western Bay of Plenty.

July was a busy month at Bethlehem Birthing Centre with 45 births – the highest number born in a single month since we opened in November 2014.
We also welcomed our new administrator Karen Garner, and several student midwives who have been on placement with us from Wintec.
BBC midwife Belinda Wawatai attended the Big Latch On public breastfeeding event at Pāpāmoa Plaza on 2 August, bearing cupcakes on behalf of the centre! The event was well-attended and the women were treated to a beautiful waiata (song) by award-winning Māori singer/songwriter Maisey Rika and her mother Honey Rika.
SuperGrans Western Bay of Plenty has teamed up with BBC to offer women a new weekly postnatal support group. The group is held at BBC every Monday and includes morning tea and guest speakers. Our first speaker was osteopath Jessica Gamblin talking about 'The Postpartum Body'.

Te Papaioea

Te Papaioea Birthing Centre co-hosted the Big Latch On public breastfeeding event with Palmerston North Parents Centre on 2 August as part of World Breastfeeding Week.

An amazing 60 latches were made, which was a fantastic effort from mums in Palmerston North!
Morning tea was provided and there were some great spot prizes awarded on the day.

Milldove Photography – Maternity, Birth and Newborn took these beautiful photos.
The 2019 World Breastfeeding Week theme was ‘Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding’. Empowering both parents is vital to realise breastfeeding goals.

Te Awakairangi 
Te Awakairangi Birthing Centre celebrated its first birthday on 17 July.
The occasion was celebrated with morning tea and birthday cake and special guests included our first baby born here, Chloe, with her mum Margaret; our 100th baby Jayne, with her mum Paige; and our 200th baby Jock, with his parents Georgia and John (pictured here cutting the birthday cake).
More than 230 babies were born at the centre in our first year.
Our Milk Café lactation consultant, Liora Noy, is starting a new course in September called Better Beginnings for parents to discuss their challenges in a non-judgemental, safe and supportive environment. Sessions will run from 12-1.30pm on Tuesdays 3, 10 and 17 September and again on 5, 12 and 19 November.
“Parenting can be so hard, and sometimes it's difficult to find someone to talk to about the more challenging aspects. We will talk about finding ways to be the parent you always wanted to be - not being a perfect parent, but doing the best you can,” says Liora who is also a well-child and obstetric registered nurse, postnatal depression survivor and peer counsellor, Grad Dip Psychology.
Parents with babies and toddlers are welcome from all over the Wellington region. Registration is required and a koha of $20 per person greatly appreciated. To register email
Nga Hau Māngere


South American midwives Quetzala (Nicaragua); Katia (Amazon) and Narcisa (Equador) with Nga Hau Māngere Birthing
Centre mural artist Waiari MacMillan.
Since Nga Hau Māngere opened in May we have hosted visitors from far and wide, including these South American traditional midwives fresh from the NAISA Conference at the University of Waikato who followed Rachel, a Canadian indigenous student midwife, and three Hawaiian women (natural healers) who also attended the conference and spoke highly of us after taking a tour.
In early July we were a-buzz with midwives attending the monthly New Zealand Council of Midwives Auckland region meeting, hosted by Tamaki Makaurau’s Ngai Maia midwives, for a special Matariki celebration. Attendees were offered a tour and were thoroughly impressed!
Healthy Families from the Middlemore Foundation has donated quilts and knitted baby hats for our families and we have been donated three placenta pods for women who wish to bury their whenua.
Turuki Health lactation consultants have also given us some valuable breastfeeding resources including two dolls and two knitted breasts. We have also received a set of beautifully illustrated ‘Mama Aroha’ breastfeeding education cards.
Our childbirth education classes will be starting soon, initially with a Pacific lens before we commence Hapu Wananga classes as well. We also have representatives from SuperGrans available to visit our mamas to offer cooking classes, budgeting and social visits at home.
We love these connections we are making with our local community!





Quote of the day

“Just as a woman’s heart knows how and when to pump, her lungs to inhale and her hand to pull back from fire, so she knows when and how to give birth.”

Virginia Di Orio





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