Life was breathed into the new birthing unit on its opening day on Monday.

Not only was Serena Braam elated to be holding her second son in her arms but excited to have been the first person to use the unit.

The $2.8 million addition to Hawke's Bay Hospital was ready at 8am on Monday but had to wait until 9.16pm for its first newborn.

The low-risk maternity unit, named Waioha, was inspired by similar units in the United Kingdom, head midwifery director Jules Arthur said.


Ms Braam said it was a special birth, and a much more relaxing one than when she had her first child Samuel at the Ata Rangi unit.

Her second boy was yet to be named and weighed a healthy 3.4kg.

"To me it is a big deal, it is a bit special. You know, my baby is the first born there. It is a cool feeling," Ms Braam said.

Waioha is designed for births without complications expected, which the Takapau mother said made for a more "comfortable" experience.

"It has more of a bedroom feel than a hospital feel."

While the unit is low-risk, mothers with complications can be taken to the facilities of the main maternity hospital next door.

The director said hospital staff had "very clear guidelines and set pathways" if any childbirth complications did arise.

"You're always open to emergencies, that's the nature of childbirth."

The new facility also has extra room fittings, including a television and bed for a support person.

Waioha's features are a tailored response to community feedback.

Ms Braam rated the new birthing experience highly and said it was stark contrast to 15 months ago when she had her first son.

"You had to walk through all these corridors just after giving birth. Like, that's the last thing you want to do.

"Then you just went into a room that had another bed and a chair in it. It was quite cold and clinical. It was not very homely."

Ms Braam went home yesterday and was looking forward to getting to know her new son.