Two mothers who played leading roles in campaigning for other women to have access to safe maternity care have welcomed Ireland’s first national maternity strategy.
Shauna Keyes and Róisín Molloy, who lost their babies shortly after they were born at the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise, were part of the group that developed the strategy.
Shauna had her daughter, Maisie, in Portlaoise Hospital in December 2014, almost a year after concerns about its maternity services were highlighted in the media.
Her son, Joshua, died about an hour after being delivered by caesarean section in October 2009 and when she had her second child she found that maternity services had much improved.
Shauna now feels confident that maternity services will be even better as a result of the national maternity strategy when her daughter is ready to give birth in about 30 years from now.
Referring to the death of Savita Halappanavar at University College Galway in 2012 after a miscarriage, Shauna said she hoped Savita’s husband, Praveen, was proud of what she had achieved.
“Her death, along with the deaths and birth injuries highlighted at Portlaoise Hospital, have given the health service the opportunity to learn from the past and to create a better, safer system for others,” she said.
Shauna said she was no longer angry over her son’s death and was glad that she and other women like her had maintained their dignity and worked together to improve maternity services.
“Look what we have achieved. Congratulations everyone,” she said.
Róisín, who lost her fifth son, baby Mark, just 22 minutes after he was born in Portlaoise in January 2012, said it was an “absolute honour” to be part of the group that developed the strategy.
“It is because of our children’s deaths and injuries and a mother’s death that have led us to this day,” she said.
“When my son died he was just one of many children to die and he was not the last.”
When Róisín went into hospital to have Mark she believed Ireland was the safest place in the world to have a baby but, sadly, she found out it was not true — it was just an aspiration.
She was confident, however, that the strategy will ensure that Ireland will be a safe place for mothers and babies — like a stick of rock candy, it has safety written all the way through it.
And, she said, being in a room with people like her who wanted maternity services to improve made it easier to cope with losing her baby.
She had four other sons and they had asked her if their baby brother was a hero. “I told them he was a hero and so were all the others affected by the maternity services.”
She hoped that in 10 years time her sons would look back and know why she and her husband, Mark, had given up so much of their family time to make sure other children would be safe.
“The greatest apology that all of us who have lost children and partners in our maternity services is to implement this strategy.”
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