Woman agrees to caesarean after hospital goes to court

Hospital said there was risk to woman and unborn child if natural birth attempted

A hospital today made an emergency application to the High Court to compel a pregnant woman to undergo a caesarean section.

At an emergency court sitting this morning, lawyers for Waterford Regional Hospital said the woman, who is two weeks overdue, was refusing consent for the procedure. The court heard that scans carried out by medical staff this morning were “non-reassuring” and doctors believed there could be a risk for the woman and her unborn child if a natural birth was attempted.

Just minutes before Judge John Hedigan was due to deliver his ruling, however, a barrister for the hospital told the court that the woman had given consent for the procedure. Preparations for the caesarean section began immediately.

Earlier this morning, the court heard the woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons but was referred to as A, gave birth by caesarean section in 2010. That procedure left a scar on the woman's uterus, and if ruptured during a natural delivery, there would be a risk to the woman and her baby.


The court heard that if the uterus was to rupture there would be “very grave risk” to the unborn baby.

The baby could die or have severe brain damage and the mother herself could be at risk of a haemorrhage.

The woman told doctors she would like to deliver naturally but that if there was an emergency over the weekend, she would consent to a caesarean section.

However, a consultant obstetrician who gave evidence by telephone said she was vacillating this morning between allowing a caesarean on Sunday or Monday. “I advised her strongly to have a caesarean section,” he said.

The court also heard that the mother was disputing the estimated date of delivery.

She insisted that her due date is March 18th, whereas medical staff say she is 13 days overdue and that there is a possibility that she is further along than they estimate.

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic is the Editor of The Irish Times