Wednesday 20 September 2017

Super-size beds for obese mums-to-be

Health chiefs have been forced to adapt hospital wards and buy a range of specialist equipment to try to cope with the growing obesity problem affecting mothers-to-be. Stock image
Health chiefs have been forced to adapt hospital wards and buy a range of specialist equipment to try to cope with the growing obesity problem affecting mothers-to-be. Stock image
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

Super-size beds, extra wide wheelchairs, and longer needles for injections are now being used to deal with an unprecedented rise in the number of overweight pregnant women.

Health chiefs have been forced to adapt hospital wards and buy a range of specialist equipment to try to cope with the growing obesity problem affecting mothers-to-be.

MRI machines with a "bigger donut hole", modified delivery beds, and extra large blood pressure cuffs are increasingly being relied upon as Ireland's burgeoning waistline continues to expand.

Experts warn the need for the HSE to modify facilities in maternity care will intensify in the next few years as obesity rates continue to soar.

The Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital now has a room on the delivery suite suitable for the treatment of obesity-related problems. It also has various other facilities and equipment for the treatment and care of obese and morbidly obese women.

Last month, Dr Rhona Mahony, Master of the National Maternity Hospital, revealed it is grappling with various challenges resulting from the increased number of overweight pregnant women.

One in eight pregnant women treated in the country's busiest maternity unit is now classified as obese.

Almost 40pc of those attending Holles Street are over 35 years old - an age profile which if linked to obesity can cause a range of health risks.

A recent UCC study found more than half of Irish mothers who lost an infant in the weeks close to birth were either overweight or obese.

Michael Turner, UCD Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Coombe, cited a report which shows a choice of 'step on' or 'sit on' scales up to 300kg are provided in a number of maternity units. The survey, carried out by the UCD Centre for Human Reproduction, also found the majority of units have specialised blood pressure cuffs to fit around the arms of obese women.

A number of hospitals also have specially adapted operating theatres. Long epidural and spinal needles are being used in theatres to penetrate excess fat and tissue.

According to HSE guidelines, hospitals must have adequate facilities to cater for severely obese women.

Sunday Independent

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