Wanganui Hospital has the highest rate in the country for spontaneous natural births and third lowest rate of caesarean sections - figures staff say are worth celebrating.
Wanganui had a rate of 83.9 per cent of spontaneous natural births in 2012, making it the highest of all the secondary and tertiary facilities in the country and 19.2 per cent above the national average.
The Ministry of Health's latest New Zealand Maternity Clinical Indicators Report shows Wanganui has 10.8 per cent c-sections - third lowest after Rotorua and Gisborne.
Wanganui Hospital also had the lowest rate of women receiving perineal tears during labour, which could be partly contributed to good relationships with midwives.
Of all women giving birth naturally in Wanganui Hospital, 53 per cent did not receive lower genital tract tears - the best rate in the country.
Wanganui also had the lowest rate of women receiving episiotomies and not getting a third or fourth degree tear. Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) maternity quality co-ordinator Angela Adam explained this did not mean high rates of our women receiving episiotomies also received third or fourth grade tears, but that the rate of episiotomies in Wanganui was low.
An episiotomy is when a clinician makes a surgical incision to make more room to birth the baby. It is also used during instrumental births if forceps are needed, so there is more room for the forceps. More Wanganui doctors are moving away from using forceps, Mrs Adam said, instead opting for a ventouse, a suction cup that attaches to the top of the baby's head.
Mrs Adam said it had been shown that one-on-one care between the woman and her midwife improved outcomes during birth, and Wanganui's low tear rate showed women were more comfortable with their midwives.
"I think just women are really, really well cared for," she said. "They trust their LMCs [lead maternity carers]."
She also said Wanganui midwives trusted in the women's ability to birth. "We're not about rushing it - they follow their natural instincts as well.
"We're not in there sort of cheerleading, wanting this baby always born in the next 30 minutes because we've got dinner.
"For midwives, having a woman have an intact perineum is what we would call a good outcome, however it is natural for a woman to tear."
It was important that women understood it was normal to tear during labour and not see it as a failure. Mrs Adam wanted to encourage women to have their babies in Wanganui, and said the DHB had a "superb" team of obstetricians, hospital and community midwives, and paediatric staff.
"We are now keen to encourage women living on the boundaries of the Whanganui District to give birth in Wanganui, which I'm sure will happen as more families realise what a wonderful service we provide here," Mrs Adam said.