Birthing Centre Newsletter September 2021

Newsletter September 2021

Birthing Centre Newsletter | September 2021



In this issue


News from our regions

   Meet Julie Price

Letter from the founder 

Kia ora, talofa, kia orana, greetings to all


In 2014 we opened our first primary birthing center in Bethlehem Tauranga. We were lucky. We were supported by a DHB who recognized non-intervention birth did not belong in a secondary institution. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that bureaucrats get in the way. Bureaucrats are just people with names, faces, and jobs. Sometimes they are there to protect their own interests, but nonetheless, they have faces and names. Call them out.

The BOPDHB midwifery unit was willing to take a chance on this non-clinical woman who had a vision to bring the best care and support to our birthing women. I was shocked by how the system was failing women at the most vulnerable time in their lives. For me, it had been 10 days down to 6 days in hospital for non-intervention births. Breastfeeding established, exercises stringently applied, warm saline washes that felt heavenly. I was rested and ready to carry my hand-knitted shawled baby home. I thought I/we could demonstrate the difference it would make to women who were valued for their incredible ability to produce life. My plan was to ultimately create change in government policy to put women’s health center to a well society. Well woman, thriving child, happy family, healthy society.

Seven years later, we still have not broken even financially but we have created a hub of wellness, security for mothers and engagement with the BOPDHB that should be the gold standard across the nation. Day to day, with midwifery numbers, it can be a fragile existence. We need the voices of midwives to speak their truth, unfettered by those who would control their speech. Read this insightful piece by Birthworks here.
Next came MidCentral. We chose Palmerston North as another high need area to bring equitable care, again particularly to our most vulnerable. Over time we built a trust relationship with that DHB and the future for our mothers looked bright. MCDHB had the vision to lead the country into a new, but tried and true model of care for our mothers based on the science and research of the first thousand days that we have always followed and has been supported by the BOPDHB.  Confidentiality was key to forming a new partnership – It could have been the gold standard for the country. Other DHBs were waiting to see outcomes and how it would work.

It needed us all to work together to create this vanguard. To show the overarching Ministry of Health that if a woman is given her human right to the best care at birth and those crucial post birth days that then the attachment needed for an infant to thrive could be established.

At the critical time of forming this initiative, some midwives made a choice not to support this groundbreaking vanguard. Some will say they were self-serving, and like a pack of cards, it all collapsed. 

While Te Papaioea was being established, we built Te Awakairangi in a high need area. We were not offered a contract for a fee for service, still, we could not comprehend that a DHB whose mothers suffer from Code Red and Code Black situations, who are understaffed, whose midwives often do not have the time to give the care they are trained for, and mothers have a right to expect, would so emphatically turn their backs on what we had to offer while hoarding millions $ for some future projects. As a charity, all we asked for was a fee for service, but they deliberately portrayed us as a ‘money-making business’ knowing full well it was not. Who knows, perhaps their CE Fionnagh Dougan will become the CE of one of the four regions. God help our mothers.

With two of these groundbreaking centres fallen victim to a system that does not recognise that women should have autonomy and choice of their health needs, the future for mothers looks bleak. Our mahi is not supported by the NZCOM/Union, how can it be when our philosophy hinges on women’s empowerment over their own bodies and voice?  Like any abusive relationship, it cannot be successful if one partner has power over the other. We are not about control.

We were blown away by this message shared by Leith Porter-Samuels, a message that speaks to the heart of this work and why we all need to raise our voices together.

And then there is Nga Hau Birthing Centre on the edge of Mangere Town Centre. A largely Maori/Pasifika (80% Pasifika) population, Counties Manukau has refused to support us. This is a high need area. To have equitable care and choice of birthing facility for mothers in this area and to sit back and allow the Wright Family Foundation to pick up every cost associated with this beautiful centre that supports the community is more than shameful while they support the Australian owned for-profit business Birthcare.   

Birthcare is a great business, but how many of our Mamas can go there? How comfortable are our families in that setting? In my view, this screams of discrimination, marginalisation, and an utter disregard for the welfare and wellbeing of whanau in this area. The team at Nga Hau, led by Tish Taihia have created a hub of wellness, inclusiveness, where whanau have at last found a home.  

We are grateful for the mothers, whanau, who we know have received the best start to their journey of parenthood, we have failed to achieve any progress on the government (a succession of Ministers of Health) in ring-fenced funding that follows women’s need and choice of health care. The government, from the top down, continues to refuse to engage.

But now from Claire, let’s have the good news.

Arohanui, Ia manuia,

Chloe  ❤️
Chloe Wright


Julie Price

"Motherhood is a gift, but mothers need to be supported and nurtured"

Julie Price is part of the team at Bethlehem Birthing centre who brings this support and nurture to Mothers and their whanau at the centre. Julie has been a permanent maternity care assistant (MCA) at our Bethlehem centre since late 2019.  Julie tells us that she "remembers thinking when I applied for the role, that nothing could have been more perfect, than the opportunity to work in a primary birthing centre, like BBC".  Prior to Julies employment she had been a stay at home Mum for 15 years, raising her 5 children, who are now aged between 5 - 17yrs, three of which were born at home. 

As an experienced homebirther, Julie has a huge passion for primary care, she explains to us that "woman are so blessed to have this amazing facility here in Tauranga". Julie finds immense joy in being  part of a team that creates an environment that is beautiful and nurturing for birthing mums.

The pride Julie takes in her work shines through, she explains "I use every opportunity I can to be creative in my food presentation and to be neat, accurate and precise in my maintenance of the facility". Julies warm, friendly and bubbly personality means that she always enjoys the opportunity to either listen or share experiences with those around her.

Julies hope is that "women leave BBC feeling confident and valued as a mother, and with fond memories of their time here, care for the Mother and the outcomes and opportunities for the child increase".  This passion she tells us is shared by the entire team at Bethlehem "we are all on the same page and want to do the very best they can for the Mothers we care for" says Julie.

In Julies spare time, when she can find it, Julie reminds us, as a single working mother of 5! She enjoys horticulture, especially heirloom seeds, taking care of her farm animals and horses, needle felting, playing the bagpipes, watching her children’s highland dancing and bonfires with the kids.


News from our Centres


"I could not be more proud of the team"

Clinical Midwife Manager of Bethlehem Birthing Centre Alex says as she reflected on current challenges of COVID and RSV, furthering this she explains that "every member stepped up to the plate when we once again were plunged into Level 4".  Back to full PPE and restriction, not Bethlehems normal social little bubble at work. Managing these recent challenges has meant lots of reassurance and support was given to clients and LMCs as they adjusted to the new rules and environment. For Midwives wearing a mask puts a physical barrier between yourself and your client and makes connection and engagement extremely difficult.  Alex tells us that  "It is hot and stuffy and restricts movement but it is what we have needed to do to keep our clients, team and community safe so we have pushed through".
The incredible incredible MCAs have not only done terminal cleans in full PPE which is a huge ask and extremely tiring but also stepped up to the plate in the kitchen as well.  Alex mentions that impact of not having their  "beautiful chef, Sylvia" onboard due to being stuck in Korea without a MIQ spot, and cafes closed in level 4 management have had to think on their feet and roll up their sleeves to continue to provide the high quality and service that is expected of the Birthing Centre. 

Alex noting further on the strengths of the team "MCAs Julie and Mikaela have been towers of strength and the casual MCAs have been so helpful and willing.  I could not have asked for more". COVID and the challenges of working from home have not escaped the team at Bethlehem, with their "fabulous" administrator Bonni having to overcome the challenges of working from home. Alex tells us she and the team are so grateful for the additional pastoral care she continued to provide. This support albeit from a distance and via phone and messenger, but still was able to check in on members of the team and ensure their mahi whanau including Alex felt supported and loved.  Trish, Bonni and Alex with the help of the MCAs explain that they "now feel that they have streamlined the kitchen including the added demands of feeding Dads/partners in level 3 and 4". 

Amongst all of this, Alex tells us she also had the "unbelievable privilege and honour" and working with Chloe and Wayne’s youngest son and daughter-in-law, as they welcomed their 2nd child into the world at Bethlehem, "it was magic" Alex says!  
Alex and the team would like to send special thanks to the following:
Trish for helping with the level 4 setup, Saskia for providing online antenatal via zoom. 
Our counsellors Hayley and Katie for continuing to support women via zoom and phone, and Chloe, Traci and Tony for being such a support during the challenging moments. Thank you to everyone for your hard work and dedication to our service it is a privilege to work alongside each of you and huge congrats to the team at Bethlehem for welcoming a record-breaking 58 babies into the world in August. 
All the Bethlehem team send their love and thoughts to Jacqui, Deb, Eleanor and colleagues at Te Awakairangi, the closure has been felt across the country. "I wish you all the best for your future endeavours and hope our paths cross again soon.  As well as sending love and safe wishes to Tish, Chantel and the team and Nga Hau (ground zero), I hope you are all doing ok under Level 4 restrictions" says Alex. 

" I had my son here during level 4. Still had my dream birth, the ladies working here are super lovely and helpful room was so nice and comfortable. Very thankful to have been able to give birth here.
Thank you,  Cassandra"


Ngā Hau Māngere 

Birthing surge

Nga Hau Mangere Birthing Centre experienced a surge in birth numbers after a slow July with a total of 30 for the month of August.  "We noted the numbers were unrelated to the announcement of Level 4 on the 17th August as 17 pepes had already arrived!" explains centre manager Tish. Just before this newsletter went to print, we were delighted to hear Nga Hau are just two births short of celebrating 500 babies born with us!

Whilst the women have been keen to get home to their own ‘bubbles’, staff have received great feedback about birthing at the centre in this lockdown. Tish tells us that it is "also encouraging that there is an increase of a wide range of LMC’s birthing and booking their women at Nga Hau – the word continues to spread far and wide".

The Delta variant has been a gamechanger for all at Nga Hau and the surrounding community so there has been a need to review processes in order to keep Nga Hau a safe space for hapu mama. The team have worked hard to respond and implement changes in an incredibly smooth and swift manner.
The hardship the community is feeling has not gone unnoticed by Tish, "our thoughts go out to our community of Mangere and our Pasifika whanau in the country’s largest cluster" reflects Tish.
The strength and positivity of the centre shines through as the message Tish tells us is that there is opportunity at this moment " opportunity to find new ways to engage and rally team spirit".

The whole team at NHBC also send their support and regards to Deb & the whole team at Te Awakairangi this month.

" I couldn't ask for a better experience especially in South Auckland " 
- Rhea and Kratick


Te Awakairangi 

Closure of a taonga 

August was a challenging month at Te Awakairangi Birthing Centre, where management and staff received the sad news that there was a proposal to close early in the month. Despite all efforts to engage with DHB and the Ministry of Health, the closure was confirmed at the end of the month during COVID Level 4.
Te Awakairangi has been a taonga for many – whānau, LMC midwives and Te Awakairangi staff. Deb, Centre Manager tells us that  "It has been amazing to see the community activism that has occurred in support of Te Awakairangi, particularly the Hutt Families for Midwives group".
Deb and the whole management team send their thanks to the staff for maintaining their positivity and continuation of the fantastic care and support they provide to whānau and each other.
The move to Level 2 has brought with much delight the return of antenatal clinics and according to Deb "Te Awakairangi now feels vibrant again, after feeling like a nurturing haven in Level 3 and Level 4. This is bittersweet as we near our closing date. We will continue as a team to support our birthing community". A closing ceremony will be held at Te Awakairangi birthing centre on Thursday 23, September. 

"Incredible place to have your bubs, highly recommended. Beautiful clean and big rooms. Lovely food and the staff were beyond amazing. Thank you so much for the amazing experience" - Hannah

Mothers Matter update

Mothers Matter is continuing its fight to raise awareness of the need for better maternal care for our women. This campaign must enact change for our Maternal Health system. We have been working hard making connections throughout New Zealand. We are gathering voices that represent communities from all corners of the country. Every voice and story must be heard so that those whom we have elected can truly understand the hidden issues that women and their whānau are facing.

  • Alliances: We have been busy making connections around the country. We are passionate about collaboration. We believe that only through working together can we enact this change. We are focused on creating alliances with key individuals, groups and professionals around the country that are determined in their vision to improve the health outcomes for our mothers. If you or your organisation would like to form an alliance with us, we would love to hear from you, contact us here.
  • In the Media: The past few months we have seen interactions with our social media posts skyrocket, with posts reaching over 80,000 people.  We have two key projects underway for a range of media channels. If you have a story to share, you can contact us here. 

You can continue to become involved by wearing a red flag badge (contact us to order), or by adding a frame to your social media profile and by writing to your local MP. Find out more on the Mothers Matter website.  Please reach out via our website if you have any queries or would like to be more active with this campaign and Facebook page.

Click here to see the Mothers Matter short film. 

Warning: Some viewers may find this content distressing due to themes of violence and suicide. These themes whilst confronting must be faced to ensure we bring these experiences to light. We must have this overdue societal discussion and demand better for our Mothers. 

You can find previous issues of our newsletter here.

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

Bethlehem Birthing Centre is also on Instagram, you can follow us @bethlehembirthingcentre


Quote of the day

“Life is best organised as a series of daring ventures from a secure base.”

– John Bowlby

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