‘Horrific’: Women who suffer miscarriages describe sharing hospital area with new mothers

‘Horrific’: Women who suffer miscarriages describe sharing hospital area with new mothers
Maria McNamara. Picture: Brian Gavin Press 22

A group of Limerick women who have suffered miscarriages have called for a baby loss clinic to be set up in the city, writes David Raleigh.

The women, who are members of the Mid West Miscarriages Support Group, explained their "horrific" experiences at Limerick's Maternity Hospital after they lost their babies.

Thousands of women have come forward with stories of how they received treatment on the day of and after they lost their children in the same environment as women in the throes of excitement at delivering their healthy babies.

St Munchin's Maternity Hospital on the Ennis Road in Limerick is to be relocated to a new building at the University Hospital Limerick, however work has yet to start on the €27m development.

With no clear date for construction of the new unit, management at St Munchin's have also applied for funding to build a smaller early pregnancy unit at a cost of €800,000.

Members of the miscarried mothers' group have said the unit will not meet the needs of women at risk of or who lose their pregnancy in emergency situations.

They have called for a 24-hour unit to specifically meet the needs of miscarried mothers.

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One of the women who has bravely gone public with her traumatic story, Maria McNamara, described how she was left in a Labour Ward with other expectant mothers, after delivering her deceased baby at home while 12-weeks pregnant.

Ms McNamara called for a unit, located away from a maternity hospital, where husbands and partners are also allowed full access.

"We named our baby Alex. We conceived the baby through IUI fertility treatment. It was so exciting to get pregnant and then...," Ms McNamara said, her voice choking.

Maria praised staff at the maternity hospital, but described the system - which forces miscarried mothers and expectant mothers to share the same area - as "horrific".

"The midwife I met was the same midwife I met when I lost my first baby the year previously. She was incredible," said Maria.

"The nurse said a prayer and she carefully wrapped up our baby and put him in a tiny tiny white coffin."

"The staff are lovely... It's the system”.

In the past year St Munchins now provides a "Snowdrop Room" for women at risk of miscarriage or who have been told their baby has a fatal foetal abnormality.

Ms McNamara said there must be a facility, separate to the maternity labour ward, for women who experience the trauma of losing her baby.

"There were babies being born all around me...I could hear mums screaming in pain in labour, and I could hear babies first cries...and I could hear Dads telling their relatives and friends that their baby had just been born," Ms McNamara recalled during her second pregnancy.

She has since suffered a third miscarriage.

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St Munchin's Maternity Hospital was designed to cater for 3,000 births annually, but in recent years has been dealing with up over 5,000 births a year.

Pauline Gannon, of the Mid West Miscarriage Support Group, said: "We need a 24-hour baby loss emergency walk-in clinic...You don't lose your baby by appointment."

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