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Now women have just FIVE hours to give birth

WOMEN in Ireland have an average of just five hours to give birth, a maternity representative group has claimed.

Limited hospital facilities are buckling under the ever increasing birth rate in Ireland.

The most recent figures to date, which only take into account the first quarter of 2011, show that there were 19,950 births in the country.

A total of 5,951 were in Dublin alone.

The figure for Ireland is a 2,776 jump within just three months.

And it shows no signs of slowing down.

New mums' representative Jene Kelly, from the Association for Improvements in the Maternity Service (AIMS), said they are receiving more reports of women giving birth on trolleys and in corridors.

"The problem is that the HSE is cutting the services but the births are going up," she said.

"We are seeing more and more women just pushed through the system.

"And even the act of labour - there is a time limit for how much each woman can have in each stage of labour.

"If you calculate the actual beds per hospital according to births per day, it works out that each woman has five hours to give birth.

"Labour can take a woman anywhere between a few hours to 24 hours."

A HSE-commissioned report in 2008 on Dublin maternity services outlined that the three existing Dublin maternity hospitals should move to general hospital sites.


The report said each of the new units should have the capacity to deliver up to 10,000 babies per year, even though it noted the current pressure on existing maternity hospitals.

"We have gone nowhere since we set up in 2007," Ms Kelly said. "We are seeing more and more births and more women have contacted us."

"We're expecting further cutbacks in the budget. It's a big problem."

Director of Doula Ireland Tracey Donnegan recently said that the current baby boom that has been predicted for years is still adding unexpected strain on hospitals.

"It is a production line to get the women in and out of hospital as quickly as possible," she said.

"Dublin hospitals are heading towards 30,000 births this year and they've only 30 delivery beds."

The baby boom, which has happened at a time of economic recession, has meant that there are now 35pc more babies delivered at the Rotunda hospital compared to five years ago.

Earlier this month, planning permission was granted for a new 120-bed private women and children's hospital at Sandyford in south Dublin which should ease the number of private maternity beds in the area.

The Government has also pledged to push ahead a new women and children's hospital, which include 127 single, en-suite patient rooms.

But it's unclear whether these commitments can be fully met in the current economic climate.