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Des Lalor

Wind Engineer

Sustainable Energy Authority

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A Week in My Community Midwife Role

"I have run out of restaurants on many occasions when the main course has just arrived." Mary Cronin, Community Midwife 

My job is to attend mothers who choose to have their babies at home. This involves antenatal care, attendance at the birth and postnatal care for up to two weeks after the birth.

I work very closely with their own GPs and the maternity hospital in Cork. I also deliver babies in the hospital if the mother is transferred for hospital care when it is no longer safe to be labouring at home. Some days I might have someone who is just starting labour; other times I will get a call about something that is worrying one of my mothers.

I let all of my clients know that I am at the end of the phone and they can contact me at any time. So while I go through messages and calls, I am usually having my own breakfast on the move.

I walk for 20 minutes before work and try to get another two 20-minute walks in during the day. Given the nature of my job, every day is different. This week I am visiting two clients at home who gave birth in the past two weeks, so as soon as my kids have gone to school I go and visit them. This involves monitoring both the mother and the new baby.

Most mothers just need reassurance that all is normal. So I monitor feeding, measure the baby’s weight, progress and routine, take a newborn blood test and much more besides.

My antenatal clinic is in my house, so clients usually come to me for their antenatal care. I have a clinic at least two mornings a week and I sometimes have afternoon sessions if it suits the client better.

I visit all mothers at home when they reach 37 weeks in their pregnancy to prepare her and her partner for the birth and also to note where she lives and how long it takes me to get there. I also do a booking clinic at Cork University Maternity Hospital once a month with my colleagues. This is where the women will have their scans and see our consultant, Prof Louise Kenny.

I usually work from Monday to Friday doing all the routine stuff, but if babies decide to arrive, then of course I will make visits at the weekend. We aim to have two midwives at every birth and I am also available to be the second midwife for other colleagues.

Right now I am waiting for two women to start labour; they are both a little bit overdue. My working week is fairly routine but if I am called to a birth, all other work is cancelled.

The best part of my job is the privilege of delivering babies and sharing in these precious moments as it is a very special time in peoples’ lives. I also feel very blessed that I can be very available to my own children in the middle of the working day. I also love visiting the new mothers and their babies in the first few days after the birth.

The most difficult part is being called out between 2am and 5am, but even then, it’s just the act of getting out of bed that’s hard; as soon as I’m in the car, I’m fine. Waiting for someone to give birth can be tricky as sometimes I can’t leave Cork because a woman is due and this can be restricting, as can the interruption of my social life if I am called to a birth. I have run out of restaurants on many occasions when the main course has just arrived.

It is a wonderful job and I feel very honoured to be doing it Home births in Ireland The HSE advises that home births can be a safe option for low-risk healthy women. Research has shown that a planned home birth is an acceptable and safe alternative to a planned hospital birth for some pregnant women.

Women may wish to have a home birth because they want to feel more in control; feel safer at home; want to avoid intervention; dislike being in hospital or don’t want to be separated from older children.

According to the Homebirth Association of Ireland, only a small number of women in Ireland have their babies at home. Figures available from the ESRI for 2005 show a homebirth rate of just under 1 per cent of all births.

In 2011, there were 168 planned home births attended by a midwife. The Homebirth Association of Ireland has 22 self-employed community midwives who are registered with the HSE to assist in home births. 

Article Source: The Irish Times

Article by: Arlene Harris