There is fun, laughter and a lot of learning, but also a serious side to Turanga Health's bi-monthly antenatal classes.
At the rate of 2.2 per 1000 births, the rate of Sudden Unexplained Death in Infancy (SUDI) in Tairawhiti is more than three times the national average.
Hauora Tairawhiti Mokopuna Ora safe sleep co-ordinator Kaniwa Kupenga-Tamarama says through wananga like that provided by Turanga Health, she is determined to change that.
“It is critical to protect pepi (babies) from SUDI for that whole first year of life so we teach many ways of making sure baby is sleeping safely and doing that in a culturally appropriate manner.
“There is a long tradition of bed-sharing, for example, and we aren't here to say ‘don't do that'.
“What we can do is show whanau how they can use things like pepi pods or wahakura (woven basket beds) to keep baby safe.
“It's about making every sleep a safe sleep for baby.”
While Ngati Porou and Hauiti hauora run wananga in weaving wahakura, Turanga Health commissioned a local weaver to make them as gifts at antenatal wananga for mothers who need one for their pepi.
“Our two-day antenatal wananga also cover all the other things that can help whanau keep baby safe — from healthy homes and substance-free pregnancies to labour and birth, and options around breastfeeding,” says Turanga Health Well Child Tamariki Ora co-ordinator Janneen Kinney.
Around 700 pepi are born in Gisborne every year and these days about half are registered with the Tamariki Ora service run by Turanga Health.
“The antenatal classes are perfect for first-time mamas — or mamas at any stage — who might need extra awhi and support,” says Janneen.
“This could be getting a capsule, stopping smoking or getting ready to safe-sleep baby in a wahakura,” says Janneen.
“So in addition to Tamariki Ora, we can offer a wrap-around service to help take them through their parenting journey.”