You are viewing the content for Wednesday 25 October 2006

Non-nationals opt for natural births

NON-NATIONAL mothers are more likely to have a natural birth, without the use of pain relief, induction or caesarean sections, compared to their Irish counterparts.

They are also less likely to have medical conditions during pregnancy, like high blood pressure or the baby in breech position.

The survey took a sample of 100 non-national mothers mostly from Eastern Europe, South Africa and Britain. A smaller proportion were from other African and Asian countries. Three quarters of non-national women have a normal vaginal birth rather than a caesarean section or vacuum birth. This is far higher than the rate for Irish women of 65%. A fifth of non-nationals (23%) had induced labour, a third lower than the Irish rate of 31%.

On average, twice as many non-national women as Irish women go through labour without any form of pain killer. Non-national women are far less likely to pre-plan, or use an epidural, while just 29% end up using the pain relief option, compared to 42% of Irish women.

Non-nationals tend to have less complications during pregnancy. Almost one in five (18%) of Irish women had high blood pressure during pregnancy, which is double the rate of non-nationals.

While the baby was in breech position for 6% of Irish pregnancies, just 1% of non- Irish women has the same problem. Non-national women have a slightly lower level of satisfaction with the overall maternity care, with just 33% saying they had no complaints. They tend to be annoyed about the same things as Irish women, with long queues for antenatal visits and a lack of advice and support topping their lists of complaints.

However 3% of non-national women complained about over-crowding in wards and 2% complained about poor hygiene — two issues that were not mentioned by Irish women. They also believed more support should be given at home, after giving birth.

Non-national women are more in favour of seeing a midwife than a gynaecologist, while the reverse is true for Irish women.

Dr Patricia Kennedy from the UCD School of Applied Social Science, and author of "Maternity in Ireland — A Woman-Centred Perspective" said: "When Eastern European women go into a maternity ward, they say goodbye to their husband and don’t see him again until the baby is born. Romanian women, on the other hand, want to have 10 or 12 family members around them. So what works for one ethnic group, does not work for the other. The main thing for all mother is that they need support and rest. That is why best practice is required for maternity services."