Letters to the Editor: Lift HSE ban on birthing in water at home

There is a HSE ban on birthing in water for women availing of the homebirth service. Labouring in water is allowed but mothers are supposed to exit the pool for the birth
Letters to the Editor: Lift HSE ban on birthing in water at home

The suspension of HSE home births occurred in November 2020, following two adverse incidences and before conducting a formal investigation.

The idea of birth and pregnancy used to terrify me. I never wanted to have a birth that involved an epidural, gas, an induction, or any tools. It just frightened me, and for years put me off having a baby. Plus I’d heard so many horror stories. Until someone I knew had a home birth. This changed my perspective on everything.

Our baby was due on November 24 and I went over. I was advised to be induced but, based on my midwife’s checks and reports, my body, and after reading Sara Wickham’s books on induction, I declined.

On day 8, my waters broke at 8pm. My contractions started immediately. My partner started to fill the pool, and soon after that my midwife arrived. The contractions became quite intense, to the point that I vomited. Once the pool was filled, at about 10.50pm, my partner and midwife helped me in, and the relief was immediate. I thought that I had been managing very well prior to getting in the pool, but after getting in, an overwhelming sense of calm came over me. I could feel my entire body let go and relax. This is where the magic happened!

My body was so relaxed in the heat of the water that all I had to do was breathe through each contraction — I never had to push.

My little girl was born at 38 minutes past midnight, nine days overdue. No epidural, no gas, no medical intervention and I put that down to being in the water. I fully believe this aided the birth. I had read the benefits of labouring in water, but I had not expected to see the extent in which it helped. It was honestly the most beautiful, perfect moment, and I owe so much of that to the fact I had her at home in the water. I also had the most amazing midwife whose knowledge and confidence in me helped me tremendously through pregnancy and birth.

To sign the petition on lifting the ban, go to here.

Sara-Leah Doyle


Dublin 22

Maternity hospital must be secular

Mother and baby homes. Magdalene laundries. Symphysiotomy. The ban on contraception. The Eighth Amendment. Hepatitis C. CervicalCheck. On and on goes the list of outrages perpetuated against women in this country by either the State, the Catholic Church, or both hand in hand.

History has taught the women of Ireland not to trust our health to the State or the Church. The current situation with the National Maternity Hospital, where getting the truth out of the Government is like pulling teeth, does not inspire trust either.

We do not trust the minister for health to use his ‘golden share’ veto to force the National Maternity Hospital to provide services that go against ‘Catholic ethos’ when he already allows half the maternity hospitals in Ireland to refuse to provide abortion services.

We do not trust SVHG’s labyrinthine ownership structure which means this taxpayer-funded, billion-euro asset can be sold to third parties beyond State control. We do not trust a religious order that refuses to pay its share of the clerical abuse redress scheme.

Do Micheál Martin and Stephen Donnelly want their legacies to be the next Savita Halappanavar, the next Ruth Morrissey, the next Ann Lovett — another woman dead because Ireland did not care about her health? If not, the National Maternity Hospital must be secularly owned and secularly run.

Lucy Boland

Rebels for Choice co-convener


Co Cork

Church is not a relic of our past

Alison O’Connor’s article and her use of the term “post-traumatic Catholic guilt syndrome”, which she also used on Prime Time, implies that the trauma inflicted by the religious orders is a thing of the past. It is insulting and it diminishes the abuse they suffered at the hands of the religious orders.

Unfortunately, in 2022 the Church and religious orders are not a relic of our past and are still very much in control of our education and healthcare.

You should really issue an apology for publishing such a term, as it's demeaning to all those who are still living with the scars of abuse committed by the religious orders in this country.

Grainne Connor


Haulbowline Island remediation cost

We owe your readers and yourselves an apology for suggesting that the clean-up costs of the East Tip on Haulbowline Ireland was twice the €25m figure Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue cited in a reply to a written parliamentary question in November 2020.

We wrote then to enquire why the recently published Oireachtas Committee of Public Accounts Examination of the 2019 and 2020 Appropriation Accounts gave ‘€52.4m on the remediation of a former industrial site at Cork harbour’, especially given that the remaining 11 hectares of the former 20 hectare site, including the site of the mill itself and its subterranean sumps and drains, the area of heaviest contamination, remain fenced off and unpremeditated when the minister had given the costs as €25m.

What we were not aware of at that time was that the Comptroller and Auditor General ‘Report on the Public Services’ for the year ended 31 December 2019 published in September 2020 (the month before the minister’s €25m answer) not only confirmed the €52m, but went on to say: “In addition to the Department’s [Department of Communications, Climate Action and
Environment] expenditure, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine spent a further €24.6m between 2011 and 2019 on remediation of the Haulbowline site. This brings the total funding provision for remediation of that single site to €77m.”

Tony Lowes

Friends of the Irish Environment


Co Cork

Justified reward for a diligent teacher

Recently, German teacher Aislinn Barry from Loreto Fermoy was awarded a prize from the Austrian-Irish society at the Austrian Embassy. This award was in recognition of her dedication to German teaching and promotion of Austrian culture in the classroom setting. She was awarded the Catriona Dowling perpetual trophy.

Aislinn, a native of Cobh, has been teaching in Fermoy for 10 years and thoroughly enjoys her time interacting with pupils within and outside of the classroom setting. The German Department in Loreto Fermoy was singled out for having the most entries to this year’s Austrian essay competition with an outstanding 120 entries. Some 420 entries were received overall. Past pupils Sophia Lucey and Gormfhlaith Ní Shiochain Ní Bheolain were prize winners in 2021 and 2019 respectfully. German teacher Laura Brogan was also recognised in 2020 for her diligence and dedication.

Public relations team

Loreto Fermoy

We work hard — but we need to live

We have never been afraid of hard work. When the Brits lorded it over our four green fields, we got down and dirty to eke out a basic living. During a century of self-governance, access to education and economic development has provided us with decent jobs. The ‘work ethic’ is engrained in our psyche and our collective effort has built a robust economy.

The psychological benefits of work make the effort well worthwhile. Work gives us a sense of purpose, stability, dignity, and value. It allows us to socialise and make friends. Work provides us with intellectual, creative, infrastructural, and production challenges. It helps us to maintain positive self-esteem and self-worth. Work lets us upskill and build confidence.

Many forms of work allow us to contribute to the public good. Work puts the money in our pockets to facilitate a decent quality of life.

Most of us have a healthy work-life balance as we ‘work to live’ rather than ‘live to work’. Every worker is entitled to a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. Likewise, employers are entitled to a just profit. In a social democratic and compassionate country, sufficient public income must always be generated to cater for the needs of those who are genuinely unable to work. But with spiralling inflation undermining the value of take-home pay, workers urgently need a wage increase to meet the unsustainable cost of living.

Billy Ryle


Co Kerry

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