Campaigners are criticising the HSE decision to stop offering water birth services in the home.
The health service said it would no longer offer the service through the National Home Birth Service after a ‘small number of incidents’ in recent months.
It said the decision was made in the interest of health and safety of women and babies, while reviews are undertaken into the incidents.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Krysia Lynch, Chair of the Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services in Ireland (AIMS) said water births are viewed as perfectly safe internationally.
“We have a huge bank of evidence sitting there showing that water birth is an absolutely safe birth choice and evidenced birth choice for all babies that are born,” she said.
She said the HSE decision is taking a valid choice away from expectant mothers.
“A cornerstone, key point in the national maternity strategy is offering choice,” she said.
“Offering low tech options, such as home births. Offering water births and offering midwifery-led options.
“So obviously these aren't for everybody but one thing that we are all very much in unison about is the fact that people do have these choices.
“So, to suddenly pull one of these major choices without any investigation, without any warning, without any due process, goes very much against the HSE’s own protocol and obviously means less choice for people in Ireland.”
Ms Lynch said safety is “paramount” when it comes to giving birth; however, she said a service can’t be withdrawn without “due process.”
“Every day of the week in our maternity services, there are issues associated with the use of pitocin for induction or the use of caesarean section or the use of epidurals,” she said.
“We have babies that end up, perhaps, in special care baby units after the use of those things but we certainly don't expect those things to be dropped instantaneously.”
She said she would have no problem with the service being withdrawn if it is shown to be dangerous.
“Absolutely, we have to follow the evidence but I know for a fact that the evidence won’t show that,” she said.
“While we don’t have many water births in Ireland, we do have many water births in the North and in the rest of Europe, water birth is as common as for example, induction is in Ireland.”
She said water births remain available to private patients – and warned that the HSE decision could mean water births are only available to the rich.
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