Midwives fight closure of Lumsden Maternity Centre

Southland mothers and midwives are fighting for the Lumsden Maternity Centre to stay open following the news it will be closed in favour of sending women to give birth elsewhere.

Thirty-eight babies were born in Lumsden last year, and former Prime Minister Bill English was born there in 1961, but it will soon cease to provide birthing services and only offer pre- and post-natal care.

Alison Eddy from the New Zealand College of Midwives told Three's The Project centres like Lumsden need to stay open simply thanks to the benefits they give to new mums.

"The research is really clear; if you're a well woman having a straightforward, uncomplicated pregnancy, you're going to have a much better experience [at a birthing centre].

"Much more likely to have a normal birth - your baby would be more likely to breastfeed; you'll recover more quickly from the birth if you choose to go to a primary unit, or a birthing unit."

Ms Eddy thinks the centre's closure is indicative of another problem - the lack of importance placed on birthing care in New Zealand.

"We would argue that maternity services haven't been prioritised sufficiently by DHBs or the Ministry of Health for a number of years.

"We're just women looking after women having babies, so midwives and maternity services have often been really low down the rung of DHB and ministry priorities."

Watch the video for the full The Project interview.