The saying, ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ is clearly illustrated in the Hurunui where a working group is helping to ensure maternity support is available for local whānau.
The Hurunui Health Services Development Group (HHSDG), which includes community members and health professionals working alongside health service managers from Waitaha Primary Health Organisation and the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB), developed a plan to enhance health services including ensuring pre and post-natal care is accessible to local families.
Rural community midwife Bex Tidball, who has been working with the HHSDG, says having services available in the district means many women and their babies can be cared for close to their home and community.
“It’s a good idea for women to consider where a midwife is based and where they hold their antenatal clinics, especially if they don’t drive or work commitments make it difficult to get to appointments. Once their baby is born it can also be challenging if you have a long way to travel,” says Bex.
Fifteen Lead Maternity Carers (LMCs) work in the district and can be found by searching the ‘Find Your Midwife’ website, which allows you to search by area and availability.
“Each midwife has their own profile on the website for women to view. Once they decide on a midwife they can organise a meeting to decide if they are a good fit for each other.
“It’s a good idea to engage early as the LMC’s books fill up fast. They also have smaller caseloads due to the extra time they need for travel across the district.”
The Mother 4 Mother Breastfeeding Peer Support Programme through Waitaha Primary Health now has groups in Rangiora, Waikari and Amberley. The groups have trained peer supporters that provide one-to-one help when needed. There is also a group from Cheviot and Rotherham that is in the process of being established.
Local mother and peer supporter Brona Youngman has been one of the driving forces to get the Hurunui Mother 4 Mother programme going. She has raised three children in the Hurunui and knows the importance of having someone to rely on for advice and support.
“I struggled with breastfeeding my first baby, but I had a friend who was a nurse who I could call on for advice, which I really appreciated” says Brona.
“It can be easy to stop breastfeeding because it feels all too hard, especially if you have to travel a long way to get support and your partner is working 24/7 on the farm.”
Brona and six other women finished their training via Zoom to be Mother 4 Mother peer support people during the Covid-19 response.
“Amy, who trained with us, and myself can now offer one-to-one help for women in the Hawarden area and we also run a support group at Waikari where we can get together, share our experiences and knowledge with other mums.”
“We can also refer women to a lactation consultant, if there is a problem we can't resolve.”
Between four and six weeks post-birth, the local Plunket nurse Clare Hewett will also make contact and provide Well Child checks and information about parenting education courses, local Plunket groups, community groups and resources.
“We offer antenatal classes for all expecting parents and postnatal adjustment programmes for those experiencing distress or depression following their babies’ birth,” says Clare.
“We can adapt to the different needs of the whānau and there is always a nurse at the end of a phone when you call the Plunket Line (0800 933 922).”
Most midwives hold antenatal clinics at the Rangiora Health Hub, which means women can become familiar with the facility.
“The facilities are fantastic and it’s beautiful, so it’s increased families’ confidence in birthing there,” says Bex.
“The Hurunui is a fast growing area with lots of young families that are very good at supporting each other. A strong sense of community combined with great local services and facilities makes this a great place to have a baby.”
HHSDG facilitator Koral Fitzgerald seconds this, noting there are some really hardworking and passionate people working in the Hurunui who go to great lengths to provide quality maternity care.
CDHB Director of Midwifery Norma Campbell says it’s wonderful to see the Hurunui based health providers working together to ensure pregnant women in this rural part of our district are cared for as close to home as possible.
“The sharing of ideas and listening to the local women means the care they receive is about them and their whānau. By working together it also means that providers can be supported by each other, and their combined skills can be accessed by the local community,” says Norma.
Talk to your LMC, Plunket or your general practice for more information about maternity support options across the Hurunui.
Image above: Some of the members of the Hurunui Mother 4 Mother group.