Saturday 1 October 2016

No matter what, giving birth shouldn't have to be like this

Barbara Scully

Published 09/05/2015 | 02:30

Giving birth is a huge event in a woman's life
Giving birth is a huge event in a woman's life

It's a cold, wet, thoroughly miserable Friday afternoon in Dublin.

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Arriving home at about 5pm I am delighted not to have to go out again. I turn on the radio and fill the kettle to make tea.

"A newborn baby girl has been found alone and abandoned in West Dublin. She is currently being treated in Tallaght Hospital where her condition is described as stable."

The word 'newborn' reverberates around my brain.

The infant is now warm and safe and receiving the best of care in hospital, but somewhere in this city there is her mother, a woman, possibly very young who has just given birth and in desperation has left her baby, alone and alive in Rathcoole.

Giving birth is a huge event in a woman's life.

But whether one chooses to deliver in a hospital or at home, with your partner present or not, it is the mother, and she alone who gives birth.

The support of a partner, a midwife and perhaps an obstetrician is hugely important but as a woman you are aware, deep in your core that it is you and only you who is delivering the miracle of new life into the world.

The mother of this abandoned newborn was possibly totally alone as she delivered, and delivered safely, her baby.

I can only try to imagine the terror, the feeling of desolation that she must have felt, giving birth in secret with little or no support.

I don't know what the circumstances were that drove her to shun maternity services and take the course of action she did.

But the anguish and desperation that led ultimately to her decision is a sad indictment of modern Ireland.

I am ashamed that she felt she had no other option.

Three years after Ann Lovett gave birth and died along with her newborn baby in an icy grotto outside Granard in 1984, I gave birth to my eldest daughter.

Although not a teenager, I was single and felt sharply the cold wind of judgement and stigma that had not been erased by the horror that had taken place in Longford.

The sad reality is that 30 years later we still judge single mothers in Ireland and our abortion restrictions make it difficult for a woman without financial resources to access termination.

As I sip my tea I can only hope and pray that this woman, this new mother finds the help, support and understanding she needs.

Irish Independent

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