Clare Hutchinson, whose inspiration founded River Ridge East Birth Centre, was educated in a Steiner school in Amsterdam and trained as a nurse in an anthroposophical hospital in Holland.
Arriving in NZ in the mid-1980s, Clare observed the maternity system in New Zealand, and experienced its many facets while working in various settings in the Waikato. Having an open mind and background in the Dutch maternity system, she looked for ways to improve the local maternity services.
Home birth is not a viable option for many women, but equally the hospital is not the ideal place for normal birthing. Although she worked as a domiciliary midwife, she realised home birth did not provide enough support for the new mother.
Clare initiated a centre that was both a safe environment for babies, and holistic support to ease their mothers into motherhood. Creating a supportive working environment for midwives was also important, where they can extend their knowledge and the art of midwifery.
Says Clare: “Working with an anthroposophical impulse in a mainstream health service environment, my aim is to offer excellence in maternity care within the free service allowances of the Ministry of Health funding.
“I think anthroposophy should be visible in the world – in healthcare, education and agriculture – and influence the way we approach daily life. Anthroposophical ideas must be able to adapt to the circumstances and environment in which we live and work. So my endeavour is to provide a maternity service in the mainstream environment influenced by the ideas of Rudolf Steiner.
“Our clientele is truly multicultural and from all sectors of society. We demonstrate that an anthroposophical impulse can be accessible, relevant and not exclusive or rarefied. The impulse defines the quality of care and is a continually evolving process. Inspired by this spiritual view of mankind we must remain grounded in the real world and there try to make a difference.”