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Northland DHB Maternity Services

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What is a maternity service?
Maternity is concerned with the care of women and babies throughout pregnancy (antenatal), labour and the first six weeks after birth (postnatal). For low risk pregnancies, where there are no complications, the provider of care (Lead Maternity Carer) is normally a midwife who is working in the community and funded by the Ministry of Health.  This is at no cost if the pregnant woman is eligible for care; if you are unsure if you are eligible for care look at the Ministry of Health website.  If a pregnancy or birth becomes higher risk then an obstetrician may become involved in the care along with the LMC.

How does the system work?
A LMC midwife provides care for women from the confirmation of pregnancy through to the end of the postnatal period. A woman can approach any community based midwife to provide her care and can also change her LMC at any point if not happy with the care provided. Women receive continuity of care from their community midwife including their labour care, which is of benefit to both as a strong relationship is usually built up during the pregnancy.

In the unlikely event that a woman was unable to locate a community midwife then a service is provided by the DHB. The woman will see the DHB community midwife during the antenatal and postnatal period. When in labour the woman presents to birth suite and will receive care from the core (hospital based) midwifery staff. The DHB will always try to assist women to locate a community based LMC midwife so that they have the opportunity to receive continuity of care.

If complications occur during the pregnancy, or other factors emerge such as twins, then an obstetrician may become involved in the care. The LMC will refer the woman to the Antenatal Clinic at the DHB for an appointment with the obstetric team. Dependent on the issue which has arisen with the pregnancy, ongoing care will be provided either by the LMC alone or by the LMC and obstetrician providing joint care.

Where is maternity care available?
Maternity care for Northland DHB is based out of the main population centres of Northland: Whangarei, Kaitaia, Kawakawa and Dargaville. Rawene is also a centre for care, but operates under a public health trust outside of the DHB.  Birth care is provided at Kaitaia, Rawene, Bay of Islands and at Whangarei.  Secondary services, such as epidural pain relief, are only available at Whangarei.  Postnatal care is available at all centres including Dargaville.

Not sure if you’re pregnant?
If you suspect that you may be pregnant but are not sure then it is advisable to take a pregnancy test. The following are some of the places where you can be tested: 

  • GP
  • community midwife practices
  • at home – buy a home test at the pharmacy
  • family planning clinic
  • sexual health clinic
  • Te Puawai Ora - Commerce Street, Whangarei.

Pregnancy tests are simple; a small amount of your urine, ideally the first urine passed in the morning, is placed on a test stick that will indicate after a couple of minutes whether the result is positive or not. If the test is carried out too soon it may give a false result so if you are still unsure repeat the test one week later on the morning urine.

So you’re pregnant – now what?
Once you have a confirmed pregnancy it is important to start planning your care as soon as possible. The first thing to do is to engage the services of a Lead Maternity Carer – in Northland this would be a midwife. Details of midwives in your area can be found on the internet, phone book or following the link  Also the Ministry of Health can be contacted on 0800 Mum2Be (0800 686 223) to send out a list of available LMCs in your area.

If you are unable to contact a community midwife, then a DHB midwife can be contacted on 0800 696 439 (during office hours only) who should be able to assist you to find appropriate care.

There are various scans and tests which are available/recommended during pregnancy. Please discuss these options with your care provider.

Consider taking folic acid and iodine supplementation in early pregnancy. Research has shown that daily doses of folic acid taken from conception until at least the end of the 12th week of pregnancy reduce the risk of your baby having neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly. For more information about supplementation in pregnancy please refer to:

Eating a balanced and nutritious diet is recommended during pregnancy. There are certain food groups to avoid while pregnant and details of these can be found at There is no specific guide to weight gain in pregnancy however, if you are slim, then you may gain more weight than someone who is overweight. Dieting during pregnancy is not recommended, it is more important to ensure that you are eating a healthy range of whole foods, which aims for mostly fresh fruit and a range of vegetables, carbohydrates like wholemeal bread and porridge with small amounts of protein like lean meat and low fat dairy products.  Exercise is very important also, a 30 minute walk every day is a good plan.  Your LMC will talk to you about your individual needs.

Pregnancy is an ideal time to give up smoking, drinking alcohol and taking drugs. All these things can affect the growth and development of your baby and can have lifelong effects on their health. For support with smoking cessation please contact Quitline on 0800 778778 or look at  For support with drug and alcohol issues please speak to your care provider.

During pregnancy it may be recommended that you consider vaccinations. During the flu season a flu vaccination is available free to all pregnant women. During a pertussis (whooping cough) epidemic a vaccination is available free to pregnant women between 28 and 38 weeks. This passes on immunity to your baby to cover the first few weeks of life until they can become vaccinated themselves. For further information discuss with your LMC and please see and

Childbirth education is offered free through the DHB either in the form of evening classes or weekend classes. These are held at Te Puawai Ora at 18 Commerce Street, Whangarei. There are also sessions targeted at young parents which are held during each school term at The Pulse. For more information regarding these classes please phone 09 430 2324 and leave a message and someone will return your call, or email

Common complaints in pregnancy
It is common to feel uncomfortable at times during pregnancy. A feeling of nausea and sickness frequently occurs during the first trimester. However if you find that you cannot keep any food or drink down then it may be something more serious and advice should be sought from your LMC.

Later in pregnancy it is not unusual to suffer from reflux/heartburn. This is due to the effect that the pregnancy hormones have on your body. Again advice should be sought from your LMC.

Other common complaints during pregnancy are constipation, varicose veins, dizziness, backache, broken sleep, pelvic bone pain, Braxton Hicks tightenings, leg cramps and frequency of urination.

It is important to always discuss these things with your LMC to see if there is any further support that can be given or any further investigations that need to be carried out.  Also any concerns you may have about your baby’s movements; if they seem to have decreased it is very important to notify your LMC as soon as possible.

Going into labour
If you think you are going into labour it is time to contact your LMC. It is important to contact your LMC if you think that your waters have broken even if you don’t start contracting. Your LMC will discuss the signs of labour with you so you know what to look out for.

When in early labour your LMC will advise the best place for you to be. If you have chosen to have your baby in the hospital the following are suggestions of things to bring with you when it is time to make your way to birth suite:

 For during labour: 

  • support people, people who will be there for you and meet your needs
  • own pillow
  • food and drink – especially for the support people
  • energy snacks or drinks, water is best, for yourself
  • warm socks
  • music, an i-pod can be good with your choice of music
  • something to read - magazines etc.
  • lip balm
  • a camera
  • heat pack/wheat bag for heating up
  • own clothes and toiletries
  • massage oil.

 For ongoing stay in hospital: 

  • comfortable clothes, remembering that for breastfeeding it is easier with clothes that open down the front
  • a maternity bra
  • any pre-existing medications
  • clothes for baby (woollen hat, booties, cardigan, baby grow)
  • clothes for baby to go home in
  • baby blanket
  • baby bottles, teats and baby formula if you intend to artificially feed your baby
  • a car seat appropriate for newborn baby.

 It is recommended that you leave all valuables at home.


Starting labour artificially?
Induction of labour (IOL) occurs either for a medical or obstetric reason and the decision will be made with you in consultation with an obstetrician, when your LMC refers you to the antenatal clinic.

Post dates: When your pregnancy has gone 1-2 weeks past the expected date of delivery and you decide, in consultation with your LMC and the obstetrician, labour should be started, an IOL will be offered. The process will be discussed with you at the clinic.

Ongoing postnatal care
Once baby has arrived you may choose to stay in hospital or go home immediately (as long as there are no medical indications that either you or baby should stay in hospital). Care is then provided by your LMC for 4-6 weeks postnatally. From that point onwards you can choose who should provide the follow up care for your baby whether it be Plunket or some other well child provider.

Within the first few weeks after birth your baby should be seen by a Hearing Screener who will determine whether your baby requires any further investigations. This may happen in hospital or you will be offered an outpatient appointment.

The lactation consultancy team is available at the hospital to see all women who require assistance with breastfeeding or who wish to discuss feeding issues. The team is also available to see women antenatally and at any point while they are breastfeeding, at free drop-in clinics held at Te Puawai Ora, 18 Commerce Street, Whangarei. Clinic times are Tuesday and Thursday from 10am until 2pm.

There is a national immunisation register that holds the immunisation details for all children born after 2005 in New Zealand, unless the parents have chosen to opt off from this register. The immunisation schedule for your baby will start at 6 weeks after birth – enrol your baby with the GP service of your choice and talk to your GP or the practice nurse for more details.

With all newborn babies it is important to be aware of how to keep them safe and this is especially important when considering where they sleep. All babies should have their own sleeping space where they are free from risk – this can be in a bassinette, cot, PepiPod or Wahakura.  Rates of sudden unexpected death of an infant (SUDI), do increase when parents smoke, take drugs and alcohol and/or co-sleep with their baby. If you have these risk factors, please discuss safe sleeping arrangements for your baby with your LMC prior to birth.

What if baby arrives early?
If you suspect that you are going into preterm labour, then it is very important to contact your LMC and present to birth suite to be assessed.

Whangarei Hospital can provide support to babies who are born from 32 weeks gestation onwards. If it appears that you are going into labour prior to this gestation then the decision may be made to transfer you to another unit which can support early preterm babies. In the first instance this would be Auckland, unless there is no space available in their neonatal intensive care unit.

In the event that you give birth to a preterm baby prior to 32 weeks at Whangarei, then a team would normally arrive from the neonatal intensive care unit to arrange the transfer of your baby as soon as possible.

The aim is to keep families together so where possible we will arrange for you to be transferred to Auckland for follow-up care so that you can be with your baby.

Once baby is stable and it is appropriate, the plan is normally to return baby to Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) in Whangarei for ongoing care so that you can be closer to your family.

Babies born early but after 32 weeks' gestation can be admitted to the SCBU in Whangarei for care. Parents are encouraged to spend as much time as they can with their premature babies so that they can be involved in their care and aid the bonding process. This is also important to establish good lactation (milk production).

Additional support
During your pregnancy or during the postnatal period there are a variety of services which can be put in place to support you and your family. There are social workers dedicated to maternity who can work with your family as required and input can also be obtained from the maternal mental health team if necessary.

Discuss with your LMC if you think that you would benefit from some input from other services.



Maternity care is available 24 hours a day at Te Kotuku Birth Suite and the Antenatal/Postnatal ward.

Northland DHB community midwifery care is available Monday to Friday 9am – 4pm.

Procedures / Treatments

  • Amniocentesis

    This is a procedure used to evaluate the health of your unborn baby and identify any problems that may exist.… More

  • Antenatal Blood Tests

    Having blood tests early on in your pregnancy can help protect you and those close to you.… More

  • Caesarean Section

    A caesarean section is the name of the operation done to deliver a baby through a cut in your stomach and uterus (womb).… More

  • Epidural

    An epidural is a type of anaesthetic (medication that stops pain and feeling) that makes your lower body numb without putting you to sleep.… More

  • Flu Vaccination in Pregnancy

    If you get the flu during your pregnancy we now know both you and your baby are at risk of complications.… More PDF

  • Gestational Diabetes

    Gestation is the length of a pregnancy from conception to birth (usually 40 weeks).… More

  • HIV Screening in Pregnancy

    Recommended routine screening for HIV testing in pregnancy for women … More

  • Induction of Labour

    Induction of labour is the process of starting labour artificially.… More PDF

  • Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR)

    In a very small number of pregnancies, the baby may not grow as well as in a normal pregnancy.… More

  • Obstetric Ultrasound

    Ultrasound imaging, also called ultrasound scanning, is a method of obtaining pictures from inside the human body through the use of high frequency sound waves.… More

  • Postpartum Depression

    The postpartum (also called postnatal) period is the time after the birth of a baby.… More

  • Pre-eclampsia

    Pre-eclampsia is a condition which occurs in some women during the second half of pregnancy.… More

  • Whooping Cough Vaccination in Pregnancy

    Whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial infection that is very dangerous for newborn babies.… More


How much does maternity care cost?

Maternity care in New Zealand is free unless a private obstetrician is engaged. If you are not a New Zealand resident or citizen please check with your care provider if there will be any cost attached. Further details can be found on the Ministry of Health website

Document Downloads

  • Breast Feeding Simply the Best (DOC, 1.8 MB)
    This booklet has been prepared by NDHB lactation consultants to assist new mothers. It can be downloaded and printed as a resource in the antenatal period.

Visiting Hours

The Te Kotuku Maternity Unit in Whangarei on the antenatal/postnatal ward has visiting from 11am until 8pm.  If you want your partner or other support person to stay with you on the ward please discuss with your LMC.

Birth suite has no visiting restriction.

Phone Contact Number - The general switchboard number is 09 430 4100 and ask for Te Kotuku – Maternity Unit.

There are phones in each birthing room which can be used to make local calls. Mobile phones are welcome in maternity but please be considerate of others if sharing a room.

Internet is available in Northland DHB Whangarei Hospital.


Meals and refreshments are provided throughout the day for all women admitted for maternity care. For visitors tea and coffee making facilities are available on birth suite and the antenatal/postnatal ward.  A café is also available during the day on the ground floor of the hospital.

Travel Directions

The entrance to Te Kotuku is off Hospital Road, parking is available around the back of the unit.  There is short term drop off for clinics at the front.  For emergency entrance after office hours finish at 8pm, then entrance is around the back of the unit, there is a door bell to use.  Please discuss with your LMC.


There is a public car park around the back of the Te Kotuku Maternity Unit as above.


The Whanau House on Hospital Road has limited spaces available for family members who need somewhere to stay overnight. There is a charge for this service.

There are laundry facilities available on the lower ground floor for patient use. There is a charge associated with this.


There is a pharmacy based in the hospital, however it does not fill prescriptions for taking home. If given a prescription for medication then please fill this at a community based pharmacy.


Security officers are present twenty four hours a day and patrol the hospital grounds. The hospital is locked down at 8pm each night. Security officers are located at the entrance to the Emergency Department overnight and will attend any disturbance if called by staff members.


Useful Websites

Northland DHB -

Maternity Services Consumer Council -

New Zealand College of Midwives -

New Zealand Midwifery Council -

New Zealand Medical Association -

Medical Council of New Zealand -

Plunket -

Parents Centre -

Parent to Parent New Zealand -

Family Works -

Barnardos -

Healthline - or phone 0800 611 116

Parent and Family Counselling Services -

Family and Community Services -

The Pulse, Youth One Stop Shop -

Immunisation Advice -

Family Planning -

Sexual Health Clinic -

Healthy Homes -

Quitline -

Advice on Eating in Pregnancy -

Dental and Teeth Services -

Advice on Supplementation in Pregnancy -

Find Your Midwife -

Contact Details

Whangarei Hospital


  • Phone

    (09) 430 4100

Fax (09) 430 4115 during working hours; (09) 430 4132 after hours

Emergency Department: Open 24 hours / 7 days, Phone (09) 430 4100

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Whangarei Hospital
2 Hospital Road

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Street Address

Whangarei Hospital
2 Hospital Road

Postal Address

Whangarei Hospital
Private Bag 9742
Whangarei 0148

Dargaville Hospital


  • Phone

    (09) 439 3330

  • Fax

    (09) 439 3531

More details…

Bay of Islands Hospital


  • Phone

    (09) 404 0280

  • Fax

    (09) 404 2850

More details…

This page was last updated at 10:18AM on December 1, 2016. This information is reviewed and edited by Northland DHB Maternity Services.