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Dan starts Ireland's first neighbourhood midwives homebirths

THE birth of his three young sons at home led Dan Oakes setting up Ireland's first 'Neighbourhood Midwives' home birth service in 2014.

Dan (34) who was the first man to graduate in midwifery at DkIT a few years ago, is a co-founder of the new service which offers women the opportunity to have their baby in the comfort of their home, under the care of a trained and experienced midwife.

'I think when my first son Finnian was born eight years ago, I saw how beneficial it was, both for my wife Heather and our son. Our two other boys, Oran and Arden were also born at home, and I think then I realised it was a service which was really missing for women in Dundalk and across the North East.'

Dan, who is originally from Alaska in the United States moved to his father's native Dundalk ten years ago. He swapped a career in construction for midwifery studies soon after his first son's birth, adding that it inspired him to make the career change.

'We had a fantastic midwife, the birth inspired me and I had a calling to study midwifery,' added Dan.

Having joined forces with colleague Tracy Donegan, the duo formally launched 'Neighbourhood Midwives,' in 2014.. They soon had around 20 women signed up for home births across the north east.

The service also began recruiting midwives due to the demand and they hope to eventually employ up to 120 midwives across the country.'

'Our service means that for the first time mothers have a choice in private maternity care in Ireland that includes a home birth. We do need more midwives because the demand for our service is growing. As we increase the number of midwives we will be able to increase the areas where we can offer our service.'

All Neighbourhood Midwives are qualified and registered with Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) or the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and all have experience of working in the HSE or NHS.

He added; 'Complete continuity from a known midwife in pregnancy and birth has long been the gold standard in maternity.

This is because continuity in care, that is a woman working with the same midwife throughout her pregnancy and delivery is consistently proven to increase positive outcomes and save lives.'

A key aspect of the home birthing ethos, said Dan, is that women are secure in the knowledge that in the event of any complications during delivery, they will be immediately transferred to an obstetrics unit in their nearest hospital.

For more information about having a home birth in the Dundalk area, or to apply for midwifery posts, contact danoakes@neighbourhoodmidwives.com or at 085-1050161