On 11th August this year, our birthing centre celebrated its 22-year anniversary. It’s been a challenging couple of years and at HBC we felt it was important to celebrate this significant milestone.
We talked to Sally Garrod, one of our lovely postnatal midwives who was there when our doors first opened to postnatal stays.
Sally was probably the only person that worked at the former hospital, too, after she finished her nurse training and before it closed down. She’s lived in Helensville for over 30 years and has seen generations of families come through the centre. Two of her grandsons were even born here.
Sally also has a background in nursing and acute mental health. This has shaped the person and midwife she is today. She especially loves working around newborns and whānau as they meet for the first time and experience that gorgeous oxytocin (the love hormone) high.
Rewind to 2000 – the centre then.
Before we were Helensville Birthing Centre, the facility was a hospital. It had a delivery room but didn’t have postnatal care services.
Helensville almost lost the facility but luckily a group of strong local women rallied together and fought hard for the centre. We opened our doors as the centre you know now – offering postnatal stays – in August 2000.
“If it wasn’t for this group of women, we would’ve lost that building. And it’d be very hard to start the birthing unit if you didn’t even have the building to work with,” Sally recalls.
Initially the centre was very quiet. Sally worked at Waitākere Hospital too, but gradually demand grew as Helensville grew and word spread of our excellent care. Sally ended up reducing her time at the hospital until 10 years ago when she stopped working at Waitākere.
Sally has seen many changes during her time with the centre. “One of the big changes is that initially it was just us and we did everything from cleaning the rooms to the meals, there was no auxiliary staff.”
The centre’s become a beautiful place to stay and recuperate – inside and out.
When the centre first opened, the garden was in a bit of a state. Our first manager, Charm, did a lot of work to make it a beautiful and peaceful spot.
Whānau can now enjoy a quiet moment in Charm’s Garden while they bond with bub.
22 years on – the centre now.
Sally says, “Now we have healthcare assistants. We’re a lot busier and can have four women at a time for postnatal stays. We’ve increased our services and got three lactation consultants that are on staff at the centre as well.
The centre has been refurbished a couple of times. It used to have a bath instead of a birthing pool! Most women who choose to birth at the centre want a water birth as it offers them space to move around and is natural pain relief.
“You can move around freely and feel weightless in the water, and [be comforted] by the warmth.”
Helensville has grown over the years but retains its village feel and charm.
Back in 2000, the township didn’t have a supermarket and over the years we’ve seen several new subdivisions. It’s great to see new families join the community and put down their roots here. People come from further afield to access the care and support we’ve built a reputation for providing.
“A lot of LMC midwives recommend HBC to their women because they know that they’re going to get good care and they go home confident with breastfeeding their babies,” Sally shares.
A happy and supportive place to work.
We love that Sally has been here since the beginning and that “staff generally stay for quite a long time. So, there’s a lot of knowledge. The staff all enjoy their job and want to be there. I think that rubs off on the families that stay there.”
What has stayed the same over the years.
“The focus at the birthing centre is really family orientated. Our specialty is the time we offer and breastfeeding education. Birthing here is a gentle, low-tech experience and that hasn’t changed.”