Overhaul of maternity services would shift focus to midwife-led approach

New plan would offer women alternatives to consultant care in a hospital setting

A major overhaul of maternity services will give women greater choice when it comes to birth arrangements.

The Irish Times says the plan will see a shift to midwife-led births, instead of the current obstetrician-led approach, and greater access to home births for low risk pregnancies.

Under the current arrangements, the vast majority of women give birth in labour wards, under the care of an obstetrician.

Reports this morning say the new plan seeks to normalise pregnancy and birth as much as possible - and would see a move to a midwife-led approach.

Women with low risk or normal pregnancies would give birth in low-intensity birth centres - or at home.

This would mean no routine access to interventions such as epidurals, oxytocin or electronic foetal monitoring.

Women with high risk pregnancies - or those who wish to do so - would be seen in high intensity settings - or labour wards.

The strategy recommends a significant increase in the number of midwives as well as the appointment of around 100 additional consultant obstetricians.