Midwife was ‘Googling’ information while woman was in labour, inquiry told

Nurse is facing allegations over professional performance during home births

In a previous submission, the midwife denied making comments about anyone being ‘on the clock’ or referring to home birthing women as a ‘tribe’ or a ‘breed’. Photograph: iStock

In a previous submission, the midwife denied making comments about anyone being ‘on the clock’ or referring to home birthing women as a ‘tribe’ or a ‘breed’. Photograph: iStock


A midwife accused of poor professional performance told one of her patients she had been “Googling” information on contractions while the woman was in labour, an inquiry has heard.

“I [was] trusting her to know her stuff without having to Google it,” said the former client who listed a number of concerning comments she said were made to her during her care in 2015.

Her then midwife Brenda McGarrity, also known as Brenda Lawrence, is facing 13 allegations relating to her performance and a failure to comply with her professional code of conduct.

The complaint was made by UK Birth Centres, the parent company of Private Midwives Ireland (PMI), the Santry-based firm which employed Ms McGarrity between April 2015 and June 2016, relating to her treatment and care of nine pregnant women.

At the second day of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) fitness-to-practise hearing on Thursday, the first of two mothers giving evidence described her care as “shockingly poor”. Having formally complained to the company, she said she was refunded about €3,000 of her €4,400 bill for the home birth service.

She described various remarks allegedly made by Ms McGarrity including that the expectant mother was “on the clock” once her waters had broken, and a reference to those seeking home births as a “tribe”.

“[It was] as if she wasn’t on my side or on the home birth side and she is supposed to be facilitaiting home births,” she said.

Ms McGarrity, of Castleheath, Malahide, Co Dublin, has not so far attended the hearings and is not represented. However, counsel for the NMBI noted that in a previous submission she had denied making comments about anyone being “on the clock” or referring to home birthing women as a “tribe” or a “breed”.

Another woman who was pregnant with her second child in 2015 told the hearing she had found Ms McGarrity to be personable and easy to deal with during anti-natal care.

However, on the night of her home birth she said the experience had been challenging and recalled being in the birthing pool “having this fear coming over me every time I felt contractions coming”.

Pain relief

She said Ms McGarrity had not helped her with her breathing and when she asked her for Entenox, nitrous oxide used for pain relief, she quickly found it had run out.

“There was nothing there to inhale,” she said. “I was without pain relief for some time.”

Later a second midwife, Gail Mackey, arrived with supplies of Entenox and things changed for the better.

“It really felt at that point to me like a voice of calm and, I suppose, some leadership had arrived in the room… like a guiding hand had arrived.”

Becoming emotional during her testimony, the mother said the difficulty of recalling the birth was “how alone I felt for a huge amount of the evening”.

The committee heard from two former colleagues of Ms McGarrity, including Ms Mackey, who described a number of instances in which her manner with patients, professional skills, and note-taking were called into question.

PMI midwife Elizabeth Halliday, who had previously described her colleague as being like a “rabbit in headlights” during a birth in which a child required possible resuscitation, explained how she subsequently found out she had still not sought out appropriate training for such instances.

On another occasion Ms Halliday said she observed Ms McGarrity being “quite snappy” with a client who had asked her to stop taking her blood pressure during a contraction, something Ms Halliday said was not clinically necessary at that exact moment.

“Essentially the client was not consenting and also it’s not polite or kind,” she said.

The hearing continues on Friday.