There at the garden gate, bathed in sunlight, was a brand new baby sister in the arms of Hazel, his mother.
While two-year-old Tadhg was deep in sleep the previous night, Hazel, 34, had gone into labour and travelled to Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) where she gave birth to Daisy on June 14. She left home in Douglas, Cork City, for the hospital at around midnight, Daisy arrived at 2.11am, and the proud mum was back home to present the wonderful surprise to Tadhg by 10am.
“He was out in the garden playing and myself and my husband Tadhg called him to the gate and said ‘Do you want to see your new sister?’ It was lovely for him that I was barely away from home,” says Hazel.
Her swift return to the family home was aided and abetted by her decision to opt for the Domino Scheme during her second pregnancy.
Domino, an acronym for Domiciliary Care In and Out of Hospital, is a midwife-led scheme where the relationship between mum-to-be and midwife is central. It’s offered to prospective mums at low risk of complications with the added requirement of living within a five-mile radius of the maternity hospital if it’s CUMH you’re attending.
The scheme has operated out of the Dublin maternity hospitals for a number of years — about 600 women take part in the Holles St Domino Scheme annually — but only got up and running in CUMH in January this year. It’s initially operating as a one-year pilot scheme and lead midwife Martina Dillon is focused on recruiting 200 pregnant women in 2014. So far 80 have signed up and 13 have already delivered, with nine boys and four girls to bear testament to their efforts.
Martina says: “CUMH decided to pilot the scheme as an alternative model of care to low-risk women. The Domino Scheme means women can choose a midwife-led service if they wish, where they can potentially return home within a matter of hours and where the focus is on a natural birth. It’s really a home-from-home service.”
Women who wish to take part have their options explained to them at their ‘booking in’ visit, their first trip to the hospital’s antenatal care clinic. If they opt for the Domino Scheme, they will be seen by one of the midwives on the team for each subsequent hospital visit. They also have access to a Domino Scheme mobile number for any questions or anxieties that arise during their pregnancy.
“It was lovely to have met the midwives before going in to have my baby,” says Hazel. “I’d met Emma, the midwife who helped deliver Daisy, a couple of times.”
Ideally, Hazel would have chosen a home birth — her sister has had three — but husband Tadhg was nervous about the idea. “For us, the Domino Scheme was a great happy medium. It meant the security of the hospital for the birth, and that reassured my husband, while for me, it meant giving birth the way I wanted to — it allowed me to be mobile and to draw on my experience as a yoga teacher for posture and breathing techniques,” says Hazel.
Midwife Emma was with Hazel from the moment she arrived in labour, bringing her to the birthing suite, replete with birthing pool and gym ball, where Hazel put on her choice of music.
“It was like being in a spa, the lights were down, our music on, it was so calm,” says Hazel. “It was what I wanted, to feel active, to feel what was happening, to be in control. The whole experience was fantastic.”
The fact her son had barely time to register her absence was a huge factor in her opting for the Domino Scheme. She wanted as little disruption to family life as possible. She’d spent a couple of days in hospital after her first birth and decided it was not for her.
Martina says for women who chose the scheme, it means less intervention in the birthing process with no increased risk to baby.
“It brings normality back to birth. Birthing should be a woman’s biggest achievement and not her biggest fear. And the Domino Scheme offers both the safety of a hospital setting and the chance for women to return to normal family life with minimum disruption,” says Martina.
For more information, please contact Martina Dillon,Domino Lead Midwife 086- 7872396