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.”