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18th Jun 2024

Her Health: ‘More than a hospital chart’: The importance of community midwives

Kat O'Connor

Community midwives are the comfort every expectant mum needs

Becoming a mum for the first time is an overwhelming experience no matter how prepared you are. It’s one of the biggest changes you’ll ever experience in life and it can feel a little isolating at times. Luckily, there are dozens of healthcare professionals in Ireland that make your journey a lot easier.

However, not all mothers and mums-to-be are lucky enough to live close to maternity hospitals. Travelling can be both stressful and expensive for many, but that’s why community midwives are so important. They offer support to new parents and parents-to-be without that added pressure.

A recent report by The Coombe found that there has been an 8% increase in bookings as well as a 12% rise in appointments for community midwife services. Nearly 2,000 women booked into community-based midwife-led antenatal clinics. A further 1,996 women availed of the Early Transfer Home scheme. We recently spoke to midwife Amanda and mum-of-two Carol about the scheme and its impact on new mums.

Speaking about why she became a midwife, Amanda said she became a midwife later in life because she didn’t want to have any regrets in life. “I just felt as I was getting I didn’t want to have any regrets so I said I’d like to go back to college said if I at least I’ll try and that was it.”

Being a midwife is a vocation, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t without difficult days. “There are days when there could only be two midwives and you’ve got thirty women on the books to be seen. It can be short-staffed but it is getting better.”

“Women do appreciate continuity care whether it be by midwives or their doctor”

“Community midwives will see women who are low risk in the community. They will be offered the Domino Scheme, which is a midwife-led maternity service in community-based clinics.”

Amanda explained that the great thing about the Domino Scheme is the relationship midwives can develop with their patients.

“The idea is continuity care throughout your labour so your antenatal care, internatal care and postnatal care. We tend to look after them for their entire pregnancy and we get to know them really well in our own clinics.”

“Women do appreciate continuity care whether it be by midwives or their doctor,” Amanda shared.

Amanda said it’s so rewarding being there from the start of the pregnancy to the baby’s birth and then after the mum and her newborn return home.

“There’s nothing more rewarding because it’s the full circle. Seeing somebody that you’ve looked after antenatally in the labour board is so rewarding. And then you can say ‘Oh, I’m working on Tuesday I’ll see you at home with your baby on Tuesday’.”

One mum Amanda cared for was mother-of-two Carol, who recently welcomed a beautiful baby boy.

Carol explained that the scheme helped her feel reassured throughout her second pregnancy because of the continuity of care and having the same friendly face with her throughout her pregnancy.

“It does take a lot of stress to know you’re not just a hospital chart to them”

Carol explained that she had both of her sons under the Domino Scheme and it made the world of difference for her. 

“Knowing that it was and midwife from the Domino Scheme who was coming to my home after birth helped. You’re not welcoming a stranger into your house like they’ve seen you all the way through so you’re really happy to show them that the baby has arrived.”

“It does take a lot of stress to know you’re not just a hospital chart to them.”

Amanda said being able to see the mum and her newborn in their home is an incredible part of the scheme because it’s where they feel most comfortable.

“You know when we come to the house we have more time than the midwives on the wards. If we need to stay in the house for an hour and a half with mom or help her with breastfeeding then we can do that. We have that time to give them.”

There’s no doubt community midwives are having an incredible impact but the Domino Scheme is one of the best yet. It’s rewarding for both new parents and the midwives and something that should be celebrated and supported more.

The Coombe Hospital’s community midwifery team hold 17 community-based clinics. Located in Dublin 8, 12, 22, 24, Lucan, Newbridge and Celbridge.