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Hawke’s Bay District Health Board midwifery director, Julie Arthur, and paediatrician Dr Oliver Grupp in one of the seven rooms at Waioha. Photo: Clinton Llewellyn AAHB.

The media were given a sneak preview of facilities at Hawke’s Bay Hospital’s new primary birthing centre, "Waioha", on Friday.

Due to open next month, the new $2.8million seven-room, midwife-led facility was the only dedicated natural birthing unit at a public hospital in New Zealand, according to Hawke’s Bay District Health Board midwifery director, Julie Arthur. She laughed the facility made her the  “the envy” of the 19 other DHB midwifery directors around the country.

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After the today’s preview tour for the media, Arthur said the public would get a chance to inspect the facilities at Waioha at an open day on Saturday June 25, before it officially “opened for business" on July 4.

 

She estimated there would be 700 births a year at Waioha, which was for mothers wanting a vaginal birth who had no medical issues, had just one baby "on board" whose head was down, and was “full term” - or more than 37 weeks pregnant.

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In total, there were 2000 births a year at the hospital but that figure was declining, she said, as was the number of natural births. The standard of the facility would attempt to "push back" the falling rate of natural births, she said

Each of the seven spacious rooms – each decorated a different shade of blue, representing water - contains a large birthing pool, ensuite, wall-mounted flat screen TV, and a sleeping area for a partner or labour support person.

Arthur said each room, down to the artwork, had been designed with input from a stakeholders’ group, which called itself “Great Expectations”, which included midwifes and LMCs (Lead Maternity Carers).

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The health board says the new birthing centre itself was developed following extensive consultation with the public, following the unpopular decision to close Napier’s three-bed birthing unit, which shut in December 2013.

The public had asked for a birthing centre in a “home-away-from-home” environment, it said, which was also close to specialist care.

Paediatrician Dr Oliver Grupp said some might question the need for the new $2.8million when the number of births at the hospital was falling.

However the percentage of deliveries that required a medical intervention, like a Caesarean section, was rising and the intention of the birthing centre was to address that.

The “calm environment” of the facility was expected to have a positive impact on health outcomes for mothers and babies, he said, and with the hospital’s Ata Rangi specialist maternity unit next door and the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) also in close proximity, it all combined to provide “the best of care”, he said.

The public can tour the facilities at Waioha on Saturday June 25, from 12.30-3pm. Entry will be via Gate 3 on Canning Rd.

## According to the HBDHB: "The name Waioha relates to Wairua, which is the soul or spirit of someone and is the greatest gift in all creation, breathing new life. It is related to the sky father, Ranginui, and his wife Papatūānuku, earth mother, where all living things originate from. Waioha is creating and shaping our future by bringing forth new life into this world."

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