Mothers criticised for having induced births ahead of Christmas and First Communions

‘Johnny taxpayer’ is being forced to pay for unnecessary inductions, conference hears

Professor Cecily Begley, Professor of Midwifery at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), warned that the risks of mothers dying in childbirth will rise in Ireland unless the rate of caesarian births is brought down.

Professor Cecily Begley, Professor of Midwifery at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), warned that the risks of mothers dying in childbirth will rise in Ireland unless the rate of caesarian births is brought down.

 

Expectant mothers are having induced births to have them “out of the way” so they can attend their other children’s First Communions, a conference on midwifery has been told.

Patricia Hughes, who worked as a director of midwifery and nursing in two of the country’s largest maternity hospitals, said induction rates “soar” at Christmas time, around First Communions and at Easter.

She cited the example of Wayne Rooney’s wife Coleen who had an elective caesarean section for her first child because she didn’t want the birth to clash with a match her husband was playing in for Manchester United.

Ms Hughes told a conference organised by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) that Mrs Rooney’s request had been “hugely influential” in that age group in women seeking similar inductions.

Ms Hughes, who worked as director in Cork University Maternity Hospital and at the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital, said women should have agency over their own body when it comes to childbirth.

However, she did not agree that “Johnny taxpayer has to troop up the cost of every woman coming in who wants to be induced or having a caesarean section.

“We know with increased inductions, that it increases intervention rates and may end up with caesarean sections.

“Caesarean sections are life saving operations, but there is a lot of stuff that is happening that is neither clear nor grey. The pressure on the system is intolerable. There is a budget for the health service which is finite and it has to be used wisely.”

Professor Cecily Begley, Professor of Midwifery at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), warned that the risks of mothers dying in childbirth will rise in Ireland unless the rate of caesarian births is brought down.

Professor Begley said childbirth in Ireland had reached a “scary point” where it was becoming too medicalised and there was a risk that if things did not change, maternal death rates would rise.

Caesarian sections

Currently Ireland has a caesarian section rate of 30 per cent with a maternal death rate of 6 per 100,000 live births.

Professor Begley said the optimal rate of caesarian sections for reducing maternal deaths is between 9 and 16 per cent.

After that, caesarian sections have the opposite impact – increasing rather than decreasing the chances of mothers dying in childbirth.

She warned that Ireland could go down the same road as the United States where maternal deaths have risen to 26.4 per 100,000 and there was a direct correlation between rising caesarean sections in the United States and increased maternal mortality.

In Brazil, the caesarean section rate is 64 per cent and the incidences of maternal mortality is 56 per 100,000 live births.

Professor Begley said the reasons for rising caesarean section rates worldwide had nothing to do with maternal health, but instead reflected clinicians personal beliefs, the fear of litigation and the personal confidence of the medical professionals involved.

She said Irish maternity care was at a crossroads. She feared that the trend towards more caesarian sections was a consequence of the over-medicalisation of childbirth.

She maintained there was a clear need for a consultant obstetrician presence in hospitals at night. This would avoid a situation where junior doctors telephone an on-call obstetricians at 3am seeking a second opinion, she suggested.

The conference was held to mark 100 years since midwifery was first regulated in Ireland.