Topic: Maternity

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In 1914 most women gave birth at home with help from family, neighbours and untrained midwives. Today, women have a choice of where and how they give birth: at home, at the hospital or in a birthing unit and a trained midwife assists. In 1921 New Zealand had the second highest maternal mortality rate in the western world. In 2011, a report, published by 29 leading world health agencies described New Zealand’s midwifery-led maternity model of care as the best care in the world for mothers and newborn babies.

Maternity Annexe

The old Maternity Annexe at Tauranga Hospital was originally built in 1943. It was designed for 13 patients and first used as general hospital accommodation for 30 military patients from WW2 as a condition of it being built. In August 1943 the Board was notified by the Secretary of Defence that, “it is not expected that this hospital will now be required for military patients”. Alterations were made and the Maternity Annexe was officially opened on 21 February 1944.

Further refurbishments were made in 1994 with education and clinical rooms added. In 2009 the old Maternity Annexe was closed and demolished and replaced with a modern Maternity Unit and Special Care Baby Unit in the main hospital allowing easy access to other services and the main theatre, should women require a Caesarean Section.


Recollection of an anonomous patient, 1950’s

You stayed in for two weeks. You were swabbed three times a day while we were on bed rest for the first baby. You were looked after by doctors and midwives or nurses at the birth. Hospital food was like home cooking and we loved it.


You relied on your family back then. Your mother came to stay or neighbours helped. Breast feeding was normal but you added Karilac milk powder if needed.

I had five children and they were all overdue. I needed a Pitocin drip to push labour along and they listened in with a Funundascope. There was always a doctor at the birth but if he didn’t make it in time the midwife delivered the baby for you. Plunket came afterwards and were wonderful.


Recollection of Gwen Collard, New Mum, 1958

In February 1958 I gave birth to my daughter Wendy in the Tauranga Maternity Annexe. I was new to Tauranga and had my family doctor to look after me during the pregnancy. At the birth I really only remember the midwife telling me to push harder, and then the obstetrician who was a GP said “we’ll help you out”.

Another GP put me to sleep and I had a forceps delivery. Fathers were not allowed at the birth but the kind doctor left a rose on the step to indicate we had a baby girl. I stayed two weeks in the annexe with my baby resting in bed most of the time.

David Joblin (1941)

Baby David (1941) Images courtesy David Joblin, Born at Tauranga Hospital in 1941.

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