LIMERICK maternity hospital has come under fire for the high rate of births by Caesarean section and the lack of private toilet and shower facilities for expectant mothers.
A survey of maternity services by Cuidiú the voluntary parenting, maternity and childbirth organisation, found that while medical procedures which intervene mechanically in labour and delivery have decreased, the rate of Caesarian deliveries increased in 2017 compared to 2016.
The number of women who had their labour induced at the Ennis Road facility fell to 29.8 per cent last year from 35.1 per cent in 2016.
Instrumental birth, such as use of forceps, decreased also from 17.5 per cent of deliveries in 2016 to 16.9 per cent in 2017.
But the number of Caesarians increased from 34.6 per cent in 2016 to 34.8 per cent last year, giving the hospital the seventh highest percentage of Caesarians in the country. St Luke’s hospital in Kilkenny had the highest rate at 38.7 per cent.
Cuidiú says what it describes as “very high” rates of Caesarians and inductions of first time mothers country-wide is a cause for concern. It says that Ireland has a high rate of Caesarian births which are associated with poorer outcomes for mothers and babies and which involve surgical procedures rather than natural deliveries from which women recover faster.
The Limerick Maternity is ahead of many other hospitals in providing a ‘home-from-home birthing environment as one choice for women, complete with a labouring pool but this facility and the early labouring stage facility are the only areas where private toilets and showers are provided for labouring women.
Responding in a statement to queries on the findings from the Limerick Post, University Hospital Maternity Limerick said it has been implementing “many steps to increase the probability of natural birth and to reduce complications that may arise during birth. These initiatives include holding regular multidisciplinary training programmes for the staff.
“The difference in Caesarean sections between 2016 and 2017 is up by 0.2 per cent which is not considered to be statistically significant. In a hospital with approximately 4,500 deliveries, a difference of 0.2 per cent amounts to nine deliveries.
“When appropriate, we encourage pregnant women to choose vaginal birth after caesarean sections.
“In Limerick, we run multiple weekly high-risk antenatal clinics as the complexities have increased. The adjusted perinatal mortality rate for 2016 for babies who weighed 500g or more or who were 24 weeks gestation was 2.0 per 1000. This is the lowest rate ever achieved at University Maternity Hospital Limerick”.
UMHL is in agreement that private showers and toilets should be available in all labour ward rooms. “
“The current infrastructure does not lend itself to the addition of bathrooms in each room. However it will very much feature in the new build when we move to a brand new maternity hospital in Dooradoyle”.
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