Hon Dr Ayesha Verrall, Minister of Health, has confirmed that the West Auckland community will soon have a new midwifery-led birthing unit giving women with low risk pregnancies the opportunity to give birth in a home-like environment on the grounds of Waitakere Hospital.
Well Foundation has been involved with the planning of the new birthing facility in recent years as funding options were explored. So much care has gone into co-designing this special ‘home away from home’ birthing facility with input from midwives, whānau as well as mana whenua to ensure it meets the needs of the West Auckland community. The unit will be built and available for families in around 18 months and plans include the Auckland region’s first community milk bank; which Well Foundation is aiming to support through generosity from the community.
The development of this stand-alone unit will help provide West Aucklanders with more choices around birthing and a supportive environment for women, babies and their families following birth.
The new facility will include six birthing or postnatal suites, a whanau room, education room, staff areas and gardens,
The proposed milk bank will enable more babies to have access to breastmilk, especially the most-vulnerable babies being cared for in the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU). Milk banks ensure the safe distribution of human breast milk, which is pasteurised and frozen before being distributed to whanau most in-need.
The unit will see an increase in capacity of 500 births per year to accommodate the growing needs of the West Auckland community. This will also free up space in the Waitakere Maternity Unit for pregnant people who are unwell and need specialised care.
The unit has been co-designed with clinicians and the community. It not only increases beds, it provides access to maternity services for Maori, Pacific and teenage parents in a culturally appropriate way.
A key aspiration is to encourage early engagement with maternity care, and to create an environment where people feel welcome and safe. Up until now community midwives have had to travel to provide care and it will be helpful to have a facility close-at-hand.
It is important to be able to offer women the opportunity to give birth in a home-like environment. This will not be suitable for mothers with complex pregnancies but it will help those with low-risk pregnancies who want vaginal births,” Dr Ayesha Verrall said.
Construction of the unit is expected to get underway in March 2024, with completion due in May 2025.
Some members of the Primary Birthing Unit steering committee, LtoR: Jesse Solomon, Martyn Winslate, Matthew Knight, Tim Edmonds (CEO, Well Foundation) and Pauline Lai.
Our impact is only made possible through the following incredibly generous organisations: