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THE capacity of Bendigo’s maternity services is expanding to meet growing demand with the construction of the city’s new hospital.
More than 1300 babies are born at Bendigo Health each year and this figure is rising, with a 15 per cent growth in births since 2010.
The new maternity unit will have 25 single rooms for new mothers, up from the current 16, and seven birthing suites, compared to the four now available.
Bendigo Health women’s and children’s services senior manager Fiona Faulks said each of the birthing suites would be equipped with a Resuscitaire to treat any newborns in need of resuscitation.
The current hospital had only two of these machines, she said, which had to be shared between suites.
Three of the birthing suites will also have baths to relieve the pain of women in labour.
Mrs Faulks said women at low risk would be able to use the baths, which would be the only facilities of their kind available in the region.
The present hospital has eight cots for babies requiring specialised neonatal care, which will rise to 15 in the new maternity unit.
Bendigo Health chairman Bob Cameron said this area of the unit was also more spacious than the current facility.
“We want new Bendigonians to have the best start in life, and they’re going to have it at this new hospital,” Mr Cameron said.
Mrs Faulks said there would be four private spaces within the special care area to give parents privacy with their baby.
There will also be a private room dedicated to giving parents who lose a baby the chance to spend time with their child and grieve.
The room will have a double bed, a bathroom and access to kitchen facilities.
Mrs Faulks said such a space was available at the present hospital but was located among the birthing suites, which was often traumatic for parents who had just lost a baby.
Mrs Faulks said the unit was being built to accommodate future growth in demand for maternity services, as were the children’s unit and women’s health unit.
“This is an absolutely wonderful new space for people to give birth to their babies,” state member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards said.
The new unit will also have access to outdoor spaces, including a play area for children whose newborn siblings require special care.
There will also be separate outdoor, age-appropriate areas for children and adolescents undergoing treatment in the children’s unit.
The unit is scheduled to open late January next year.