New mothers in Canberra’s north are joining their southern sisters with the opening of an innovative birth centre at the Calvary Hospital.
Designed to replicate services already available to new mums at the Canberra Hospital, the state-of-the-art birth centre was officially opened by Chief Minister Katy Gallagher on Friday.
Dunlop couple Celeste and Toby Dalwood were the first to use the facility, with daughter Lyla arriving on Wednesday.
"It was amazing," Mrs Dalwood said. "Obviously it is something I haven't done before and the midwife was just fantastic and the whole experience was very positive."
"I signed up late in the process but it was fantastic to have Cindy, the midwife, come and visit me at home and get to know her before the baby was born.
"The room was really great. Had he wanted to, my husband could have stayed and slept. I will certainly be recommending it."
The centre’s two rooms feature large accommodation spaces for mothers, newborns and visitors, as well as a full bathroom and a child play space.
Patients will receive low intervention care maternity services provided by Calvary Hospital midwifery staff. Under the model, midwives work with expecting mothers during their pregnancy and build a relationship before labour begins.
Ms Gallagher said the facility would specialise in a collaborative and respectful approach to pregnancy and birth.
“This is a great new addition for parents who are expecting a child on the north side of Canberra because it provides another option for birthing, which follows the low intervention care maternity service,” Ms Gallagher said.
"It gives women on the north side of Canberra another choice. Prior to the opening of these facilities, women birthing at Calvary really had limited choice with a delivery suite under a particular model of care. This gives continuity of care with a midwife.
She said the rooms were unlike common hospital spaces.
"They don't look like a hospital room. All the medical equipment is hidden, the beds are bare so partners can share the space and they have roomy, lovely bathrooms."
More than 100 people joined Ms Gallagher, Archbishop of the Catholic diocese of Canberra and Goulburn Christopher Prowse and chair of the Little Company of Mary Health Care John Watkins for the opening.
Ms Gallagher said a sufficient number of midwives were trained and working in the ACT.
"The University of Canberra has a specialised midwifery degree and course now so we are seeing graduates come through the midwifery training who are registered nurses. Calvary has always done very well in terms of the recruitment and retention of midwives."
The ACT government contributed $850,000 plus ongoing costs to the new centre.
"By all accounts women are loving the service," Ms Gallagher said. "It's been open for a period of time ... and I imagine we will get to the point where we have to look at more."