Birth on a natural high in Waikato
First-time Waikato mums aged 20 to 34 are having caesareans at a rate of 8.9 per cent - well below the national average of 15.4 per cent, latest figures show.
The number of natural, unassisted births, was the fourth-highest in the country, at a rate of 80.98 per cent - well above the national average of 70.1.
New Zealand Maternity Clinical Indicators 2010 is designed to give district health boards an idea of how they track against the rest of the country and help them identify areas they should focus on.
The data show nationally, from 2009 to 2010, the number of natural births increased slightly, instrumental-assisted births decreased and caesarean births stayed the same.
Clare Hutchinson, clinical director of Hamilton's River Ridge Birth Centre, believed Waikato's low rate of caesareans was because of the high number of birthing centres in the region.
"If you go and deliver your baby in a local unit and everything is normal, then you're more likely to end up with a normal delivery than if you go to Waikato Hospital," she said.
Once a woman was in a hospital, more people became involved in the birth, so the chances of using drugs, or a caesarean birth, increased, she said.
"If you have a good midwife, which more women have these days, you are going to feel much better in an environment that you know, so you'll do better."
A natural birth was much better for mother and baby in many ways.
"If you have a C-section and it's your first baby, if you get pregnant again you're more likely to have problems with the placenta and maybe you're not as fertile as you should be. Too posh to push is obviously having a terrible lot of repercussions that nobody thought about."
Health Ministry senior maternity services adviser Bronwen Pelvin said Waikato was fortunate to have the highest number of primary birthing units in the country, which meant less intervention.
"So it's a very good strategy," she said.
Hamilton mum Kirsty Johnson, 33, said laid-back Waikato women were not too posh to push. She felt "very lucky" to give birth naturally to second daughter Quinn-Grace eight months ago at Waikato Hospital, with a supportive midwife and access to a lot of information.
BIRTHS IN 2010
Benchmarked figures, Health Ministry
Waikato 80.98 per cent, New Zealand average 70.1 per cent
Waikato 8.9 per cent, New Zealand average 15.4 per cent
Waikato 8.9 per cent, New Zealand average 13.7 per cent
Waikato 4.3 per cent, New Zealand average 4.0 per cent