Long-awaited birthing centre for Wellington expected in 2017
Wellington birthing centre advocates' labour of love has finally borne fruit, although it's not exactly what the doctor ordered.
Construction on a 12-suite birthing centre will start in Lower Hutt next month, and it is expected to open its doors mid-2017.
The Melling Birthing Centre will be operated by Birthing Centre, owned by the Wright Family Foundation, a registered charitable trust.
It has already opened the Bethlehem Birthing Centre in Tauranga, and is planning to open another in Palmerston North.
READ MORE: * Push for birthing centre to be built in Wellington
Co-founder and co-director Chloe Wright said the privately run centres would allow women to give birth naturally, without medical intervention.
Women wanting to book at the centre would need to choose a midwife who had signed an access agreement to use the centre, Wright said.
"The midwife does all the checks and so on, unless it looks like [mothers] may have to have some intervention, they can book in with us."
The free service would support women from labour until they took their baby home, with a strong focus on providing post-natal care, including parenting courses.
Karen Gault, of lobby group Birth Hub, said it was exciting that the region was getting a birthing centre, but her group had a vision of a holistic centre that would be a hub for women and their families to come to, before and after birth.
That vision could not be met by the centre, which already had a site and a plan.
That did not diminish the fact something was finally happening in Wellington for women expecting to have uncomplicated births, who did not want to go to hospital.
"We'd really love some close consultation with them from this point on, and have it [the centre] meet the needs of what consumers are asking for.
"It's super-exciting for Wellington women, I can't state that enough."
The news was an "exciting surprise" for Karen Wakelin, chairwoman of the Wellington branch of the New Zealand College of Midwives.
A birthing centre was something the region had been advocating for for some time, and midwives and consumer groups looked forward to close consultation to make sure the new centre was the best fit for the region.
"We do, however, need to be mindful that the business model doesn't supersede the needs of the women and families who will be accessing the services."
Sandra Williams, director Service Integration and Development Unit, 3DHB said Hutt Valley DHB was aware of the development, but could not comment about funding.