Still no home birth option in Limerick

Community Midwives Association chairwoman Ali Murphy

EIGHT months after the tragic death of a young woman after giving birth at home, women are still prevented from having home births in Limerick.

Laura Liston died after a scheduled birth at her home in Dunnaman, Croom on June 5 last year. She gave birth to a healthy baby boy, her first child, but subsequently died as a result of complications.

This week, a UL Hospitals Group (ULHG) spokesman confirmed that the temporary suspension of the HSE’s home birth service across Limerick, Clare, and Tipperary, which came into effect immediately after the tragedy, is still in place.

The suspension was imposed “pending an external review following a recent maternal death”.

The HSE’s home birth service, when it is operational, is free and covers the services of two independent community midwives. It also allows women access to care at the University Maternity Hospital Limerick (UMHL), should the need arise.

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Ms Liston developed life-threatening health complications shortly after the home birth and was later pronounced dead at University Hospital Limerick.

The review, which is being conducted by midwifery and obstetrics experts, aims to examine patient safety, clinical governance, and any other issues arising.

Speaking about the ban after it was imposed, Community Midwives Association chairwoman Ali Murphy said the “cessation of a service with a record of safety is not only unprecedented, but serves to add further distress to all who choose to avail of, and provide for, this choice of maternity care to low-risk women”.

It is believed that, in some cases, women have registered in neighbouring counties in order to be able to give birth at home. It is also believed that some midwives not directly involved in the review have also registered in other counties.

Women who had registered last June for a home birth were advised at the time that they would be cared for at UMHL and all have since been delivered.

Women enquiring about home births are advised to attend the hospital, pending the outcome of the review.