$5m private birthing unit for Tauranga

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New birthing centre for Tauranga. L-R Nicky Campbell-Chief executive, Chloe Wright-Director, Gabi Buechel-Director.
New birthing centre for Tauranga. L-R Nicky Campbell-Chief executive, Chloe Wright-Director, Gabi Buechel-Director.

A $5 MILLION birthing unit has been announced for Tauranga with construction set to begin as early as next month.

The Bethlehem Birthing Centre was the brainchild of Tauranga businesswoman Chloe Wright, who owns childcare chain Kidicorp with husband Wayne.

Ms Wright also teamed up with Nicky Campbell, the centre's chief executive, and Gabi Beuchel who will be a co-director with Ms Wright.

The 12-room unit will be the first privately operated, publicly funded birthing unit in the Bay of Plenty when it opens in September next year.

It will offer mothers and their newborn babies a non-hospital birth, accommodation and support for up to three days free. It will also have room for fathers on the first night after the birth.

Ms Wright told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend the centre would provide a comprehensive service offering assistance in baby care skills, such as bathing, wrapping, breastfeeding, "just totally encapsulating all of that to give that mother and baby the best emotional and physical start that they can have".

Ms Wright said she hoped it would fill a gap in local services, referring to the level of care she received as a new mum more than 20 years ago.

"You learned a lot more, not just about birth but the child as well.

"I think you were probably a lot more prepared back then.

"I've been asking a lot of questions over the last few years and a lot of mothers are having their babies and going home after two or three hours."

Ms Wright said she was concerned some parents were not as prepared as they could be and wanted to help with that.

"Those first few days are crucial to your mental health, physical health and bonding," she said.

Pink and blue lights timed to be displayed on the exterior of the building with the arrival of each baby were among the plans of the new development.

"It's really exciting."

The birthing centre would take the upper level and some of the ground floor in the new building while mothers and their babies would have their own rooms with an ensuite. The remaining space in the building would be leased to doctors, midwives, obstetricians, imaging firms and baby goods suppliers. The site spans 25,000sq m.

Rooms will be divided into standard, premier and deluxe with standard rooms available at no cost.

Ms Wright said they would see how things went before potentially expanding the business beyond Bethlehem.

The centre was expected to create new jobs and complement existing services.

Ms Campbell said they were looking forward to working with the District Health Board to help reduce pressure of beds in the hospital's maternity ward.

"We want to create a beautiful birthing environment and provide vital care in the first few days after the birth."

If there were birthing complications, the woman could be transported to Tauranga Hospital within five minutes.

Bay of Plenty District Health Board would provide funding toward the centre but it was unknown yesterday exactly how much.

No one from the board was available for comment.

In 2011 an online campaign to see a birthing centre opened in Tauranga sparked a call from midwives and mothers that one was "desperately needed".

At the time the District Health Board's Karen Smith said it remained open to discussing the development of a private birthing facility with interested providers.

There are two private birthing units in Waikato and one in Waihi.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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