Maternity services: ‘I felt safe in the hands of the professionals’

Linnea Dunne with her husband, Gary, and children, Eddie (2) and Kalle (6 months), at home in Raheny, Dublin.  Photograph: Eric Luke

Linnea Dunne with her husband, Gary, and children, Eddie (2) and Kalle (6 months), at home in Raheny, Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Linnea Dunne moved back to Dublin with her husband, Gary, last summer when pregnant with her second child, having had a less-than-happy experience giving birth first time around in London.

That time the baby was posterior and the first stage of labour was very long.

Her waters were broken, the baby moved down in the wrong position, and she had to have an episiotomy and forceps delivery. There were complications afterwards and she had to go back for surgery.

Although, in hindsight, she thinks it would have been better to delay breaking her waters, she doesn’t fault the care in the midwife-led unit.

“It was bad luck: I had back labour and a difficult baby, and obviously [it was a] first delivery.”

However, before transferring to a Dublin hospital on her second pregnancy, she looked into the options.

Nightmare stories

People told her the maternity care here was really good “but I had read so much about the nightmare stories”, says Swedish-born Dunne. “I know the approach is quite interventionist, which wasn’t what I wanted.”

In the end she chose the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital because it offered the possibility of a water birth.

“I had done a lot of reading and thinking. I wanted to see what I could do to, hopefully, avoid the same kind of trauma to the perineum and the whole episiotomy thing.”

Going in as a public patient, initially she met a “very open-minded obstetrician”, who classed her as high risk because she had had a lot of haemorrhaging with her first baby, Eddie.

There was debate about whether she would be able to use the birthing pool, but she was told to keep her options open.

Dunne was six days past her due date when she woke up at home in Raheny with contractions last October. It was a 12- to 14-hour labour, during which she had a shower for a number of hours in the hospital until the birthing pool was available.

Midwife-led delivery

The delivery of her second son, Kalle, was midwife-led.

“I was pushing on my initiative – no coaching and no pain relief other than water. It was all very relaxed and a very, very good experience.”

Having had to stay in the Coombe for six nights, due to a repeat of bladder complications she had after the first birth, Dunne rates the postnatal care as far superior to what she received in London.

At the moment there is a lot of negative publicity around childbirth here. “That leads to even more fear, especially for first-time mothers,” she says, but the Coombe showed there is another way.

“There can be a dialogue around your options and if things go to plan – which they won’t always do – it can be really, really good.

“I was happy and I felt safe in the hands of the professionals.”

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