A ceremonial handover of the Te Papaioea Birthing Centre in Palmerston North this week will cement a new partnership heralded as the "gold standard" of maternity and postnatal care for all New Zealand.

MidCentral District Health Board assumed responsibility for operations at the Palmerston North centre in April this year after requesting a partnership with the Wright Family Foundation to give women in the region a choice to birth outside a hospital setting and another option for postnatal care.

The Foundation built and opened the 12-suite birthing centre in 2017 as a social enterprise and received birth-with-postnatal-care funding from MidCentral DHB for women and their whanau. It will continue to fund wraparound services for the centre, such as the Milk Cafe breastfeeding support group, hearing screening, parenting programs, and SuperGrans.

Founder of Birthing Centre and Wright Family Foundation Chloe Wright says it is the gold standard of maternity and postnatal care all women of New Zealand have a right to receive.

"We all know the well-documented pressures hospital maternity units are facing across the country," she says.

"MidCentral DHB has recognised with this partnership that the existing purpose-built primary birthing centre is part of the solution. It would be transformative if all DHBs were to follow this lead to give our mothers the maternity and postnatal care they deserve. Our next generation is in their hands."

The partnership is also currently in discussion to provide a Milk Bank that will enable many whanau and parents to extend the time of breastfeeding. This initiative will also allow mothers the opportunity to contribute to the health and wellbeing of babies other than their own. The Milk Bank will follow strict protocols and is another landmark initiative where a DHB, philanthropic-NGO and the community are working together.

MidCentral DHB Maternity’s approach has aligned with the Mothers Matter campaign, founded by Chloe Wright to bring recognition to women’s legal entitlement to 48 hours postnatal care in a facility of their choice, regardless of the type of birth she has had. The new partnership means more women and partners are now accessing the birthing and postnatal experience that gives them the best start on their journey as parents.

The Mothers Matter campaign recognises the initiative as enabling parental education, care, and time for parents to share those special days in bonding with their baby, foundational to the nation’s social and economic success.

A Mothers Matter advertising campaign reaching out to mothers to encourage them to make an informed choice about their postnatal care has screened on television, and a petition is currently being circulated.

"Our mothers and fathers deserve the right to experience birth and post birth care in a facility of their choosing," says Wright.

The Mothers Matter petition can be found here: