By David Raleigh
Fiadh Dineen’s arrival, six days ago, was the first birth in a new “home from home” delivery suite, managed by women for women, at University Maternity Hospital Limerick.
As the labour began, Diana Ross announced, “I'm Coming Out”, from Fiadh’s mother’s Spotify account, which was playing in the background.
The midwife-led Danu Suite is the result of the HSE listening to what women want, in line with the National Maternity Strategy.
The strategy was borne out of the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar, at University Hospital Galway, in 2012.
Sarah Dineen, Fiadh’s mother, was one of the first women to use the Danu Suite’s state of the art "water immersion" labour pool.
Operational since last May, it helps provide a calm low-tech environment and natural pain relief to expectant mothers in “normal risk” pregnancies only.
Sarah, who got her wish of delivering Fiadh without any pain medication or gas, said:
“My hope and my expectation was that everything about my labour would be as natural as possible. I had heard that the pool was going to be available and I was hoping that nothing would happen to delay it before Fiadh was born.”
All in all, she spent 45 minutes in the water, before taking a relaxing shower and delivering Fiadh.
It all happened with the soothing sounds of Diana Ross, “Nine Inch Nails” and “Metallica”, offered Dave Dineen, Fiadh’s proud dad.
“It wasn’t clinical. I know it wasn’t our home, but having that open space and having the peacefulness of it, with no buzzers going or anything, was just amazing,” he added.
The Danu Suite is the first to be opened in Ireland since the publication of the National Maternity Strategy 2016-2026, which provides for greater maternal choice and the normalisation of labour.
It does not provide for deliveries in the pool.
The suite is mid-wife led, and service users provided significant input in choosing the colours, facilities and layout of the room, which is a newly refurbished, comfortable, low-tech birth room with labour aids and pool.
The room is not dominated by a bed and women are free to move from the floor to leaning against the bed, to the ensuite shower to using a birthing ball/labour aids.
Joan Regan, who was tasked by the Department of Health with delivering a maternity strategy following a HIQUA report into the death of Ms Halappanavar, said the strategy “aims to provide a service where women have access to safe, high quality, nationally consistent, woman-centred maternity care”.
She described the Danu Suite as the "country's first interim Alongside Birth Room since the Strategy was launched (and) is indeed a cause for celebration.”
Prof Colette Cowan, CEO, UL Hospitals Group, said it was “another milestone” in implementing the National Maternity Strategy at UMHL.
“Our maternity hospital is over 50 years old and, while much loved by patients and staff, it is starting to show its age. Relocating the maternity hospital to the UHL site, as set out in the Project Ireland 2040 plan, is a hugely exciting project for us and will allow us to implement the strategy in full.”
“But in the meantime, we must continue to improve our services for women and babies in this hospital.”