A woman has died in Limerick after giving birth at home, prompting the suspension of the homebirth service across the Mid-West.
The tragedy occurred on June 5 after the woman gave birth to a healthy baby boy.
The woman's family has been informed that an investigation is under way and that the region's homebirth service has been suspended pending the outcome of that investigation. However, they do not wish to comment publicly at this time.
A spokesperson for the UL Hospital Group said: “We can confirm that we have temporarily suspended the homebirth service in the Mid-West following a recent maternal death.
“The staff of UL Hospitals Group and of the homebirth service would like to extend profound sympathies to the family involved on their devastating loss.”
The spokesperson said an external review of the homebirth service across Limerick, Clare, and North Tipperary is now under way.
“A group of external experts, including those with midwifery and obstetrics expertise, is being assembled to conduct the review; looking at patient safety, clinical governance, and any other issues arising," the spokesperson said.
The decision to suspend the homebirth service means that any women registered to have a homebirth in the Mid-West cannot now go ahead as planned. Last year the Mid-West and West regions had a total of 43 homebirths. The spokesperson said:
The HSE offers a free national homebirth service around Ireland, staffed by community midwives in collaboration with public hospitals.
Concern has been expressed among the homebirth and maternity communities at the decision to suspend the whole homebirth service in the Mid-West in response to the woman's death.
The tragedy in Limerick follows the recent death of Tatenda Mukwata at University Hospital Kerry on April 21, shortly after she gave birth to a baby girl. An expert external review is under way into her death.
Interest in homebirths has risen in Ireland since maternity hospitals were forced to close to visitors during two years of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Last year almost 650 women chose to give birth at home.