Birthing Centre Newsletter July 2020

Newsletter July 2020

Birthing Centre Newsletter | July 2020

In this issue

First birthday for Nga Hau Māngere

Meet Gemma Kurth


Letter from the founder 

Kia ora,

History/herstory is being written with every action we take.

My widening bum is a small price to pay as I spend more and more time sitting at my computer writing. For the pen is mightier than the sword when used to build on ideas and bring about social and economic change.

COVID-19 not only gave our midwifery teams an opportunity to shine in how they managed parents’ experience of bringing new life into the world. It has given the country time to reflect and reset, if we are mindful. We are defined by what we put first in our lives. Not by what we have or get, but what we give. This defines our humanity; this becomes our history.

We have been asked if we will close the Birthing Centres in Lower Hutt and South Auckland that are not supported by DHBs over the Christmas holidays again this year. It was made very clear last year that although it caused us great distress, it was a means to engage with the DHBs on the importance of mothers over this already stressful time, and to at least give us a temporary contract.

It fell on deaf ears. Our staff were paid generously and kept their holiday leave. The only people hurt in this were the mothers, so why would we contemplate that again? The only reason I can see to close a centre would be a shortage of midwifery staff.

The wellbeing of mothers is the reason this long journey began. I think it is time to revisit the ‘why’ of Birthing Centre, dare I say, a bold and audacious initiative.

Firstly, it was born from a reverence for life, a spiritual foundation that would help me transcend the obstacles of transformative action. Mothers must always come first; this is our ethos. Everyone who has worked for this social enterprise is aware that we hold to women’s empowerment, strength in their own bodies and the voice of the individual.

Our concern for mothers as the foundation of society remain. We believe the best place to begin is at the beginning – pregnancy, beautiful birthing, and caring post-birth experience.

The takeover of Te Papaioea Birthing Centre by MidCentral DHB has created the opportunity for far more mothers, babies, and fathers to experience the wonderful beginnings Birthing Centre has become known for. We are about equity of care; we are about being changemakers. We want to see a service that is currently only available to a fraction of the population become the gold standard for the nation.

When I think about the urgent need for change, and for us all to get on board, I think of the recent cases of child abuse in this country. A four-month-old baby with 14 fractured bones. Three-month-old and seven-month-old babies murdered by their male caretakers. Think of how many more families could have the care and best start they deserve. History is being written.

Please take the time to read the poem below. It is written by a woman who has served this country for many years. It will tell you who you are and where your values lie.


Chloe  ❤️
Chloe Wright



It is our belief that it is past time to put the care of mothers - antenatally, birthing, and postnatally - to the forefront. The research and science is clear: future outcomes for children and families are underpinned by antenatal care and the first critical days of life.

Chloe Wright, the founder of Mothers Matter, invited key people involved in advocating for the best outcomes for our most vulnerable mothers and children to join the campaign. They freely give their time to increase positive futures for the children and families of New Zealand. They all back the science that the first 1000 days begin with antenatal education and the vulnerable days post-birth.

Almost six years ago the first purpose-built primary birthing centre was opened in Bethlehem, Tauranga, without a contract with the DHB. Bay of Plenty DHB recognised and embraced the intent and risk that the Wright family took on in establishing the centre, and they supported it. A trust relationship evolved and because of this we have been able to improve the lives of thousands of mothers, babies, and families. To bring equity of care and respect to birthing women has always been our goal.
We have since built and opened three more centres in areas of critical need - Lower Hutt, Palmerston North, and South Auckland. A standing ovation goes to MidCentral DHB for requesting to take over Te Papaioea Birthing Centre with a Memoranda of Understanding that many more mothers, babies, and partners would be able to access the facility with the standard of care already in place. This is the gold standard Mothers Matter wants for all of New Zealand.
This is the reason Mothers Matter was born. The Wright family has done the hardest of hard yards and it is past time for the Government to deliver the care that can predict best outcomes for families’ wellbeing. The job of DHBs is difficult, but for all our sakes, begin at the beginning!
The centres are beautiful, inclusive for families, a place where the profession of midwifery can practice the skills and level of care they are trained to deliver. If the goals of Mothers Matter are supported by decision-makers and families of this country, we will achieve real gains and have a positive influence on the physical and mental health of many generations. It is only common sense.
The story began with a social enterprise charity. The race should be run, and the baton should now be handed on to a Government which will put mothers centre to society. The rest follows.
Mothers more than matter, they are critical to the outcomes for our children; for our country’s future.

Find out more about Mothers Matter on our website and Facebook.
Save the date!
Mothers Matter will be hosting a Grand Ball in Auckland on Saturday 6 November 2021. More details to follow!

Happy first birthday Nga Hau Māngere!  

Nga Hau Māngere marked its first birthday in May and while we couldn't have the big celebration we wanted to due to COVID-19 restrictions, a shared lunch and birthday cake was enjoyed by our wonderful midwives.

A number of our mums who birthed here over the past year also sent in photos and videos for our gallery to mark the occasion.

Read more here about some of the triumphs and challenges we have faced over the past 12 months.


Blue lights stay on to honour slain police officer

Photo: Daniel Hines/SunLive.

Our Birthing Centres have turned on their famous exterior pink and blue lights to blue only in honour of Constable Matthew Hunt who died after being shot during a routine traffic stop in West Auckland last month.

The blue and pink light circles are usually reserved for announcing the recent birth of a boy or girl to the community.

The lights will be kept on until his funeral, which has been delayed due to family members completing their required isolation time after travelling to New Zealand.

Read more about the decision to honour Constable Hunt here.

Gemma Kurth

Gemma Kurth wanted to be a midwife ever since she was a little girl. She went to university to study psychology but found herself drawn to watching birthing videos and reading midwifery books.
She went on to get her Bachelor of Midwifery and today works as a midwife at Bethlehem Birthing Centre, as well as running the centre’s antenatal classes and her own hypnobirthing classes through her business, Empowered Birthing.
After completing her training in Palmerston North, she joined a group of LMC midwives for a few years before joining Te Papaioea Birthing Centre.
“I was driving up to Tauranga a lot to visit my sister who had just given birth to my nephew Hugh at Bethlehem so I arranged to transfer there,” says Gemma.
After a year of postgraduate studies, Gemma returned to work at Bethlehem part-time, including running antenatal classes. She took the classes online during the COVID-19 lockdown (read more about this below) which was a new experience for her.
“It had its challenges in the early days, but we all became familiar with the technology as time went on,” she says.
Gemma is passionate about primary birthing, having come from a family where primary birthing, including home births, were the norm.
“I see families become nurtured and nourished. At Bethlehem I love being able to do that for families, with partners able to stay, and pampering mums with yummy food.
“I believe that well women with normal pregnancies should be able to birth where they feel most comfortable because that results in the best outcomes for mums, babies and families.”
Gemma completed her hypnobirthing training last year and offers classes both at Bethlehem Birthing Centre and in Katikati.
“As well as empowering the women themselves, hypnobirthing also equips support people with lots of tools to help mums feel comfortable and relaxed.”
In her free time Gemma enjoys spending time with her now three-year-old nephew, cooking, running, and going for walks.

Postnatal support for Wellington mums

Te Awakairangi Birthing Centre has resumed its postnatal support course, which has been gratefully received by mums who struggled during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The free, three-part course is led by Liora Noy, well-child and obstetric registered nurse, lactation consultant, postnatal depression survivor and peer counsellor, Grad Dip Psychology.
Liora (pictured) has recently completed the fourth course, which has been attended by groups of up to eight.
“There were several mums who had traumatic births during lockdown and no-one to talk to about it so the need to speak with someone was huge.”
Conversation at the sessions often revolves around sleep management, self-care, and drawing on individual strengths.
“We talk a lot about the things we can’t change - such as making babies eat and sleep at certain times - and mums share their tips and strategies,” says Liora.
Some women have continued to attend beyond the three sessions.
“There’s something nice about having the mums who are vulnerable seeing the mums who have progressed and are doing much better,” says Liora.
One of the mums who has been a regular attendee at the course is Helen Deane. Her son Daniel is now five months old but she contacted Liora for support just a few weeks after his birth.
“I was struggling with his feeding and sleeping so she suggested I attend the group. It’s been absolutely fantastic. It’s a nice way to bring mums together to talk about our experiences,” she says.
“I’ve found it really open and honest, and reassuring to realise it isn’t just me struggling. I’ve kept going because it’s a safe environment to talk about how I feel.”
While Liora is pleased with the numbers attending, she knows there are more women out there who need help.
“With postnatal depression there’s a fine balance between the mums who are doing really poorly and can’t even think about getting out of the house, to the ones who are well enough to come along. The challenge is identifying the mums who really need it.”
If you know a mum who would benefit from attending the course contact Liora via email,

Online antenatal classes now a permanent fixture at BBC

While babies were still able to be delivered at Bethlehem Birthing Centre during the COVID-19 lockdown, we weren’t able to offer our support groups such as Milk Cafe, SuperGrans postnatal support group and antenatal classes in person.
Mums continued to be offered breastfeeding support via a private Facebook group and midwife Gemma Kurth took the antenatal classes online via Zoom video conferencing.
Couples attended up to three classes covering labour and birth, as well as skills for when baby arrives such as swaddling, bathing and breastfeeding.
Gemma’s tools of the trade included a PowerPoint presentation, emailed handouts, and props such as a doll and a knitted boob for the practical demonstrations.
“I also encourage them to swap emails and contact each other after the class, reinforcing the importance of creating a village.”
The online classes were so popular, Bethlehem Birthing Centre has decided to continue offering them as an option, as well as continuing with classes in person.
Read more about the classes and their popularity here.


Bethlehem Birthing Centre:
Te Awakairangi Birthing Centre at Melling:
Nga Hau Māngere Birthing Centre:

Quote of the day

“A great adventure is about to begin.”

Winnie the Pooh


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

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