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Kristin gave birth to her son Enzo at Bethlehem Birthing Centre in May 2016. Her midwife was Zoe Lo-Giacco.
Kristin’s hope was to have a birth without intervention, and she did a lot of preparation on conscious birthing to prepare herself for this.
“I’m a yoga teacher, so I was pretty clear in my mind that I really wanted to try and birth as naturally as possible, in an environment that felt nurturing and safe. Our midwife Zoe, with all her experience, really supported us with this.”
When Kristin and husband Chris visited Bethlehem Birthing Centre, they immediately felt the calm and nurturing environment was where they wanted to bring their first baby into the world.
“It was just so welcoming and calming, there was nothing scary about it. It matched what we were looking for.”
On the night Enzo was born, Kristin and Chris arrived at the birthing centre after midnight, her labour progressing very quickly.
The birth was so quick that they didn’t have time to run the bath for a water birth or light the candles they had planned – but say it was still “just perfect”.
“It was pretty incredible. Even though labour progressed quickly, I stayed very calm and connected to my breath. I was working pretty hard, but still it was a dream-like birth. I felt at ease the whole way, with Zoe and Chris guiding me.
“Being in such a calm environment was so important in feeling safe, and being able to let go and trust the natural process. It was amazing.”
Kristin felt supported by the staff at the birthing centre, who she describes as “incredibly passionate about their work”.
“I felt so looked after – that’s the thing that came across for both of us. All the people working there just love their jobs so much. Everything feels really authentic.”
Kristin stayed three nights for post-natal care, which she says was “almost too good to be true”.
“Being first-time parents, everything was so new to us. We just felt really supported, but also left to it – we didn’t feel smothered with advice. Advice and guidance came to you when or as it was needed.”
Kristin also speaks highly of the birthing centre’s senior lactation consultant, Shauna Walters.
“I can’t praise Shauna enough. She was just incredible, with the support and advice she gave me to feel confident fully breastfeeding. As I hit little road bumps, she gave me encouragement to keep going, in such a gentle manner.”
Sam gave birth to her daughter Lily at Bethlehem Birthing Centre on 24 March, 2016. Her midwife was Suzanne Usherwood
Sam had a hospital birth with her first child, Skylah, in 2014, and wanted a different experience for her second birth.
Sam had struggled to breastfeed her first daughter, and found that she had received conflicting advice and became stressed out – spending an entire week in hospital and not able to breastfeed.
Her experience with her second child, Lily, was completely different at Bethlehem Birthing Centre.
“I went to the birthing centre with the headspace that if I couldn’t breastfeed, that would be okay.
“But the environment was so much better, and I was feeding her by day three. I just kind of did it myself.”
Sam believes her positive birthing and post-natal experience helped her bond with Lily – a different experience from Skylah’s birth.
“With my first I suffered a bit of depression. I feel like my bond with Lily was better. This baby is so much more relaxed, she sleeps well.”
Sam had a completely non-intervention birth at the birthing centre, not even using gas.
“It was really nice. I was up walking within five minutes of giving birth, I felt good. Being able to be in the water, I felt like it wasn’t as sore.”
She says being at the birthing centre felt like being at home.
“It was amazing, you had cooked meals – the food is so mean. They are constantly bringing you food. It was so quiet, and you couldn’t hear any other babies crying. You couldn’t hear anything – it was very tranquil.”
Sam says she felt looked after and pampered – she loved her room, with lots of space for her older daughter when she visited.
“I would definitely go back to the birthing centre if I had another baby. Everyone there is so welcoming, and the fact that your partner can stay is just amazing.”
Caitlin gave birth to her daughter Emily at Bethlehem Birthing Centre on 21 February, 2016. Her midwife was Lyn Allport.
Caitlin says she loved everything about her birth experience at Bethlehem Birthing Centre – she was cared for from the moment she arrived in the carpark.
“My labour had progressed very fast – I was already fully dilated at home. My midwife rang ahead and the birthing centre had everything ready for me – it was brilliant,” Caitlin says.
“A midwife met me in the carpark with a wheelchair and helped me out of the car, and by the time got to my room, the bath was run and ready for me, as I wanted a water birth. They wheeled me in and I got straight in the bath.”
The hot water provided instant relief for Caitlin, who was thrilled to be able to have the birth she wanted, without intervention or pain relief.
“The environment was absolutely fantastic. It couldn’t have been any more relaxing, it was perfect.
“My labour had progressed so quickly, and when I got in the hot water, everything slowed down and it gave me a bit of respite. I didn’t need any more pain relief than the hot water.”
Baby Emily was born in caul – still in her amniotic sac – in the bath. The birth was captured by a birth photographer, and Caitlin says there was plenty of room for everyone due to the spacious lay-out of the room.
Caitlin says it was fabulous not having to move into a different room post-birth. After Emily was born, Caitlin was able to move onto the bed and focus on bonding with her daughter.
Husband Andrew stayed three nights, which Caitlin says was “incredible” as the couple learned about becoming first-time parents together.
The birthing centre was peaceful and quiet – Caitlin says it felt like no one else was there.
“It was the best start we could have had. The staff are all so understanding and nurturing, and so happy to help. As first-time parents, we asked lots of questions. Everyone was very respectful, they would ask if it was okay – they didn’t just bowl into the room.
“Shauna, the lactation consultant, was fantastic. We also went back to the centre to get Shauna’s help when Emily was two weeks old. Having that service, to be able to come back and get further help with breastfeeding, was phenomenal.”
Caitlin recommends that expectant mums wanting a non-intervention birth choose a midwife they can trust, to empower them to birth naturally, yet know when to make the call if a birth becomes complicated.
“We loved the birthing centre. We were thinking about a home birth for our next baby, but then we wouldn’t be able to spend three nights at the birthing centre!” she says.
Amber gave birth to her daughter Talia at Bethlehem Birthing Centre in April 2015. Her midwife was Marie Woolsley.
Amber Hutchings’ vision for the birth of her first child was to have a water birth, with no intervention.
“I wanted to have a natural birth for health reasons, for me and my baby. I wanted her to be alert and happy, and not disturbed by any drugs. I didn’t want any intervention, in any way.”
It was a vision she was able to make happen at Bethlehem Birthing Centre, where she gave birth to Talia in a birthing pool.
“It was amazing. It was absolutely what I wanted. The water made me feel so much better, it was so good. As soon as I got in the water, my cramps weren’t anywhere near as painful. I got to the point when I didn’t think I was going to be able to cope anymore, and the midwife said it was time to push. I picked Talia out of the water myself. It was so amazing.”
Amber believes the birthing centre environment helped her stay focused and achieve the birth she wanted. “It was so relaxing, and I was able to have my relaxing music on in the background.”
Amber stayed three nights post-natally at the birthing centre. She says the post-natal care was fantastic – a lactation consultant helped her with breastfeeding, to help Talia latch properly.
“All the staff were so helpful and amazing. When I was feeling a bit lonely and down, they would stay and talk to me for a bit, which was nice. They helped with Talia so I could get some sleep.
Just everything was amazing – you had your own space, and it was so quiet I couldn’t hear anything else. You weren’t disturbed if you didn’t want to be. No one came in poking and prodding you all the time.”
She loved that her partner was able to stay with her the first night, getting to know their daughter and helping with nappies.
Amber says she would encourage any woman to consider birthing without intervention if they are medically able.
“You feel so much better in yourself afterwards, not having any intervention. It’s an empowering experience.”
Vanessa gave birth to her daughter Zoe at Bethlehem Birthing Centre in January 2015. Her midwife was Nell Hurst.
Vanessa Henderson lived in Auckland when she gave birth to her first child, Xanthe, at an Auckland birthing centre.
After moving to Tauranga, she was relieved and delighted when she heard that Bethlehem Birthing Centre was to open before her second baby was due.
“I never ever wanted to have a baby in a hospital. If Bethlehem Birthing Centre hadn’t been built, I would have probably had a home birth,” Vanessa says.
“To me, hospital is where you go when there’s something wrong. It’s very medical. I think birth should be more natural.
“If you are at a place like a birthing unit, there’s less chance people are going to interfere and make things an emergency if it is not.”
Vanessa was passionate about giving birth to both her daughters with no intervention or pain relief.
“You spend nine months being really careful about what you put in your body, you don’t take things like Nurofen. Then all of a sudden, at the most crucial moment when your body needs to work, you pump it full of drugs. Your baby is still attached to you; it doesn’t make sense.”
Giving birth to Zoe at Bethlehem Birthing Centre, Vanessa focused on breathing to get through her very fast labour. “I just breathed through it, and she came out.
“It was so nice being in my own room, then I could just wander off to the bed afterwards, and I didn’t have to move again.”
Vanessa says the post-natal care she received at Bethlehem Birthing Centre was excellent. Staff were welcoming and helpful, without being pushy, she says.
“The fact that there was food there straight after having a baby was great – I don’t think people really realise how much you want to eat after giving birth! Quite often, if you have had a long labour, you haven’t felt like eating.
“You get the best meals at the birthing centre – I even took photos of the morning and afternoon tea!”
She loves the fact that the exterior of the building lights up pink or blue when a baby is born: “I have photos taken at 3am of the pink light, and my husband outside. Now, every time we drive past, Xanthe guesses what colour the light will be.”
Vanessa encourages her friends to also give birth without intervention.
“I say to them it’s just like doing a really big poo! People in a coma give birth naturally without intervention, because your body knows what to do. You just have to trust your body, and it will do it.”
Danielle gave birth to daughter Millie at Bethlehem Birthing Centre on 19 November 2014. Millie was the first baby to be born at the centre. Danielle’s midwife was Lyn Allport.
The birth of Danielle Fryer’s first child was full of intervention, and she wanted something different for her second birth.
When Tiana was born in 2012, Danielle was over her due-date, and had been told she needed to be induced.
“It was quite daunting because I had never heard good stories about induction. It turned out that all the intervention wasn’t helpful for me in any way. It took three days for labour to come on.
“This time round I wanted my body to do what it’s got to do, and let it go into labour naturally. It was so much better.
“I do understand that sometimes intervention needs to happen if things aren’t going well, but everything was fine in my pregnancy, and nothing was going wrong. I just wanted to completely do it on my own naturally.”
Danielle was thrilled when Bethlehem Birthing Centre opened in time for her to give birth. A water birth in a birthing pool eased the pressure and pain of labour.
Birthing without intervention at the birthing centre was amazing, she says. “Straight after, I thought ‘I can do it again’, because it was so easy. I think I was in a more zen place – I had such beautiful surroundings around me.
“I was able to be left alone with my midwife to do my own thing, which was so great. I had my hypnobirthing music, and I was just in a really good space.
“The centre just has a really homely feel to it. It’s really quite special, just such a beautiful place.”
The post-natal care was “incredible”, Danielle says.
“The fabulous after-care was just a bonus after having a beautiful birth at the centre, and feeling so at ease and so comfortable.
“There’s always someone looking after you and just really nurturing you. It’s that really personal contact, and one-on-one care.
“Even though we were second-time parents, we still learned a lot, such as bathing techniques.”