Concerns growing after another Southland roadside birth - Mayor

Southland's Mayor says the region's problem with roadside births is growing after the downgrading of Lumsden Maternity Centre.

A baby was born in the carpark of the new maternity hub on Friday - the third emergency birth since the town's birthing centre was downgraded in April.

Southland woman Amanda McIvor gave birth to her son Levi in the back of an ambulance just outside Lumsden in May, and in June a woman was forced to give birth in Lumsden's emergency birthing facility and then immediately travel for an hour to the nearest primary birthing facility.

Gary Tong told Newshub there needs to be urgent action.

"It's starting to get quite difficult and to have those three really reinforces the fact that there are people birthing in that area and the area is actually increasing not decreasing in population."

Tong said the first birth was shocking, but the fact the problem has continued is unacceptable.

"The first one was a surprise, but I've got to say the third one's starting to really reinforce we need to do something up in that patch very very quickly."

Former midwife Nicky Pealing told RNZ on Friday the Southern DHB is playing "Russian roulette" with people's lives.

"I'm a bit dismayed they still haven't put in place an adequate backup for these two midwives who are left holding the baby literally."

Southern District Health Board DHB CEO Chris Fleming said the Southland region's maternity services are sufficient, and there are not enough people available to staff Lumsden full time.

He told RNZ services overall had been improved due to new birthing hubs created in Wanaka and Te Anau.

A woman reportedly gave birth inside an office at the Wanaka medical centre on June 6, which she said was due to a lack of available resources for a birth.

Fleming disputed this and told the Otago Daily Times (ODT) there was an interim maternity hub emergency equipment available for a birth at the same facility.

The Save Our Wanaka Midwives group told the ODT no such facilities were available at the morning when the birth took place.

"The medical centre was closed at 4am, and there was no way [the mother] could be moved at that point, even if we did have time or stretcher."

A select committee decision is due next week on whether it will investigate the DHB's decision to downgrade the Lumsden Maternity Centre.