Tucked away behind Thames’ vibrant main street is a community treasure – “a home at home” the locals call it.
The modern Thames Birthing Unit opened in 2012 and since then a growing number of women have chosen to give birth there.
Before the unit opened in 2011 Thames Hospital recorded 83 births but in 2012 the unit increased the number of local births to 124 with numbers remaining well above 100 since.
Janine Codlin was given the perfect birthday present when she gave birth to her son Falkyn on 3 February.
“I live just three minutes away but it made me feel so safe knowing I could come straight here,” she said.
“Contractions were pretty tight when I arrived; I only had an hour between arriving and when he was born – I would never have made it to Waikato [Hospital].”
The community has really taken ownership of the unit and heaps more women are saying they gave birth to their child there – that’s awesome for all our kids, said Janine.
“My partner was born at Thames Hospital 26 years ago, so it is great he can say his son was born right next door. It really gives you a sense of home,” she said.
The unit takes a holistic approach to pregnancy and birth, offering double rooms so partners can stay with the mother and newborn.
Clinical leader Louise Rowden said having partners stay is a huge advantage as you get the opportunity to educate both the parents on how to best to care for that one child.
“Partners often get really involved and help mums learn how to correctly breast feed or just take the baby out so mum can rest, it helps the whole family come together,” said Louise.
For delivery mums are given the traditional option of birthing on a bed but there is also a birthing pool, swiss balls and birthing slings to help make women more comfortable.
In addition to birthing the unit offers postnatal care for women who birth elsewhere– the unit also encourages lead maternity carers to run antenatal clinics out of the unit and hearing screening is available fortnightly.