Thursday 23 November 2017

'You feel like you're on a conveyor belt in hospital' - Why these women decided to give birth at home

Jane and John O’Regan at their home in Cork with children Annie and Ted. Photo: Michael McSweeney
Jane and John O’Regan at their home in Cork with children Annie and Ted. Photo: Michael McSweeney
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Despite a lilting Cork accent, Wivicka O'Sullivan is Swedish. She moved to this country 15 years ago and has had all four of her children in Ireland. The first two - daughters Nola and Lyra - were born in hospital, the second two - sons Ted and Odin - were born at home.

She says the difference couldn't be greater. "You feel like you're on a conveyor belt in hospital," she says of her time at the now defunct Erinville, in Cork, and the facility that replaced it, Cork University Maternity Hospital. "I found it to be very impersonal and there wasn't as much interaction with the midwife in advance than I might have hoped for."

In Sweden, she says, a relationship can be built up between expectant mother and midwife over months and there are sleepover facilities for partners and extended families.

To get close to that, Wivicka opted for home births for her second two and says it alleviated any stress she might have felt.

"I can't stress how much better it was," she says. "You're in your home environment.

"You've been able to form a relationship with your midwife - it's not a stranger you meet on the day. When you consider how busy Irish maternity hospitals are, it seems crazy that there isn't a greater emphasis on home births for healthy mothers with no complications."

Jane O'Regan from Cork city also opted to give birth to her second child, Ted, at home after being underwhelmed by the experience of giving birth to her first, Annie, in hospital.

"Although there wasn't much I could complain about for the hospital birth, you do feel as though you're on a clock and have to get in and out quickly. The home birth was a far easier labour mainly, I think, because I didn't feel anxiety," she says.

"I wish more Irish women were told about the home birth option, but it doesn't seem to be on the radar of many GPs. There simply seems to be an assumption that you're going to go down the maternity hospital route. Even when I mention it to people now, they're so surprised. The culture isn't there - but it should be - and it was a life-changing experience for my husband John and I."

Irish Independent

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