Midwifery, homebirth and the Oireachtas

Dot writes: by a rather complex process I came upon this transcript of a meeting of the Joint Committee on Health and Children which included a presentation from the Midwifery Birth Alliance. It’s quite a long transcript but extremely interesting as an example of how a great tangle of factors contribute to the state of maternity services in Ireland – notably among them the lack of statistical data on various aspects of birth outcomes both inside and outside hospitals, as well as the jealously monitored issue of legal responsibility. It also illustrates how hard it is to separate issues surrounding homebirth from issues of professional power and control.

The meeting took place in February 2003. I wonder whether there has in fact been any significant change in policy or legislation since then? I know that there are a few independent midwives currently practising in Ireland and some midwife-led and community-midwife services, but I’m unaware that there is any commitment in public policy to shift towards midwife-led maternity care as the norm. However, I note that the NMH Community Midwives’ brochure says some of their midwives are ‘midwife prescribers’, which suggests that something was in fact done about the problem, highlighted by Philomena Canning at this meeting, of midwives being dependent on GPs and consultants to get medicines for their clients. Must find out more…


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