Local midwife and community become extended whaanau to South African family

Moving to a new country can be daunting for any whaanau let alone having a baby without your extended whaanau around you, but for Sue-Ann Groenewald her experience birthing her daughter at Pukekohe Birthing Unit couldn’t have gone better thanks to the support of her midwife and the local community.

Originally from Cape Town, South Africa, the Groenewald whaanau have been living in Patumahoe for little over a year with their two children – five-year-old son Eben and newborn daughter Eska born in October. Wanting to have a natural birth without any medical intervention, her midwife Claire Eyes supported her every step of the way.

“My plan was always to birth at Pukekohe [Birthing Unit]. It was completely natural and unassisted. I had a water birth and my husband was heavily involved as well,” Sue-Ann says.

“It’s a bit out of the norm, but my husband was able to form a bond with my daughter like nothing else. He was the first person to hold her; he saw her before I did. It was a very different experience to when I had my son in South Africa.”

Sue-Ann can’t speak more highly of her midwife Claire and the staff at Pukekohe Birthing Unit.

The staff were very friendly and helpful. Overall it was a very good experience birthing at Pukekohe,” she says.

“I couldn’t recommend Claire enough. We had an instant connection from the beginning. Claire’s very holistic and natural, which was exactly what I was looking for. It’s not for everyone, but her and I were a perfect match. I wish there were more people like her.”

Local community groups have been a huge support for Sue-Ann and her whaanau.

“I’ve had so much support from parent Facebook groups, the la leche group in Pukekohe and the local mums group. We don’t have any family here, but even if we did, it’s good having support from these groups because they’re also experiencing the same things as we are.”

Claire believes it’s a strong woman that makes a strong midwife.

“It’s about partnership, trust and respect between each other. My job as a midwife is helping women to reach their full potential through their birthing journey,” Claire says.

“Sue-Ann had gone from being quite anxious from her last birth to being a confident, breastfeeding mother this time. For me, I know I’ve done my job when I can see growth in the women I care for.”

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