Maternity unit raises profile
As great as it is to receive recognition and accolades, if folks don’t know you’re there . . .
Kenepuru Maternity Unit charge midwife Jenny Quinn is keen to get the word out that ‘‘we’re here, and it’s a safe service’’, concerned that many Porirua families don’t know there is an option closer to home than Wellington Hospital when it comes to delivery day.
‘‘We’d like to see Kenepuru used more as birthing facility, but our stats are showing we’re going to have had fewer births this year,’’ she said.
The maternity unit, which was last week recertified as a ‘‘ Baby Friendly Hospital’’ for its breastfeeding programme, handled 273 deliveries in 2008, 232 in 2009, and this year just 161 ( until the end of November).
Ms Quinn puts this down to the attraction of Wellington Hospital’s upgraded obstetrics and maternity service, but she is concerned a lot of residents don’t know Kenepuru is an option.
‘‘One staff [member] at Creekfest, did a survey. She asked people about the unit and found there were women who didn’t know we existed and of those who did know, many didn’t know we had a birthing unit.’’
Women with pregnancies considered at-risk are referred to Wellington, and the availability of an epidural ensures the regional hospital will always be preferred by many mums-to-be.
Ms Quinn doesn’t foresee Kenepuru, which offers Pethidine and Entonox (gas and air) for pain relief, ever providing epidurals because anaesthetists and theatre rooms would be required.
But for women expecting to have a vaginal birth, ‘‘midwives encourage them to start out here and see how they go’’.
What Kenepuru does have over Wellington is its postnatal rooms, which are single-bed suites, allowing new mums a more private recovery and time with their babies.
‘‘Having a room to themselves, the obvious benefit is the quiet. But some find it too quiet. Some Pacific Island women, they’re used to having family around and just want to go home,’’ she said.
About 500 women transfer from Wellington Hospital to Kenepuru with their newborns each year for postnatal care.
Most stay in the ward for up to 48 hours, longer if still requiring assistance (usually with breastfeeding).
Ms Quinn said four of the six postnatal rooms are in use at any one time, and sometimes it’s full. Families are encouraged to transfer directly from the delivery suite.