There has been a very positive development for birth choices in Ireland in recent weeks, with news that the Coombe maternity hospital in Dublin has changed its policy on giving birth in water.
With the opening of their new delivery suites including a birth pool in early 2014, the hospital initially had a policy in place whereby low risk women could labour in the pool, but would have to leave the water when they felt the urge to push. However in the last few weeks, there have been four babies born in water in the pool and the Coombe have now revised their policy to allow women remain in the water for the second stage of labour, if they so wish. This is a really positive step forward for maternity care in Ireland!
The Coombe is the only maternity hospital currently faciliating water births. Before the introduction of the new policy, the only way to have a water birth in Ireland was by hiring a self-employed community midwife who would facilitate a water birth in your own home. A number of other maternity units around the country do have birth pools but they are used with the caveat that mums must leave the pool once they feel the urge to push. Units who currently offer labouring in water as a comfort measure include Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) and the midwife-led units in both Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda and Cavan Regional Hospital. A number of units have a birth pool in place but they are not currently open for women to use.
Now that the Coombe has taken this leadership position on water birth, hopefully it won’t be long until we see other maternity units follow suit. Labouring and giving birth in water has been shown to significantly reduce the need for epidural or spinal analgesia, without adversely affecting the length of labour, instrumental deliveries or Caesarean births. The research also indicates that women who give birth in water report increased satisfaction with their birth experience.
The change in the Coombe’s policy coincided with the publication of a very comprehensive review of the evidence to support the safety of water birth by Rebecca Dekker of Evidence Based Birth. Dekker reviewed all of the available research on water birth and the many aspects involved. If you would like to learn more about water birth, its safety and the risks and benefits, then I highly recommend reading it. It is very long though, so save it for when you know you’ll get enough time to plough through it!
For more information on maternity care in the Coombe, you can visit their website here.
For more information about having a water birth at home, you can visit the Home Birth Association’s website here.© Sylda Dwyer, AlphaBirth 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the owner is strictly prohibited.