Imagine antenatal appointments in your home or at your place of work with the same midwife who will attend your birth. Imagine these visits lasting two to three hours and accompanied with tea and conversation generated by your concerns, thoughts, and recent research discoveries. Imagine maternity care from an open minded, evidence based seeker with enough empathy and strength to make you feel any goal you wish to reach is possible.
The women in Ireland need not imagine. Liz with UK Birth Centres/Neighbourhood Midwives is one of those beautiful souls that will move mountains to make sure you are in control and confident in your birth choices. Liz believes maternity care is a “personal friendship” and she walks the talk by listening, communicating with care, and discussing robust evidence based literature with her clients to ensure each and every choice, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is carefully made.
Liz started her midwifery career in 2006 after putting her shovel down as an archeologist, Liz has been practicing in the growing Ireland home birth community for almost two years, and she has attended, as a lead midwife, 60 home births in that time. She’s busy. Before joining Neighbourhood Midwives, Liz worked for 18 months in a large, understaffed hospital where the maternity ward cared for every aspect, both positive and heartbreaking, in a single wing. Liz spoke fondly of this experience as she learned more than she could have imagined during those 12 hour shifts that were nonstop and demanded a deep understanding of midwifery and the ability to make quick and accurate decisions. Liz also recalled the emotional capacity she quickly developed as she would often care for a woman coping with a miscarriage at 20 weeks and then a laboring women the next second in the room next door. Liz’s experience at the hospital cultivated a respectful relationship that makes communication easier if Liz has a transfer from a home birth. Liz chuckled, “They [the hospital] should trust me. They trained me!”.
During the two hours Liz carved out to talk with me, her passion for genuine, intentional care came across in every word and gesture; it’s easy to understand why she is successful in her midwifery practice. I had heard praise from several mum’s she has worked with over the last two years, and my only wish is that I was having another baby with her in Ireland! Liz accepts, without fear, the responsibility to help women usher their babies into this world in the way they wish to do it. Even if the birth plan doesn’t go as planned, Liz has an internal commitment to work with the mother to ensure the mother feels in control and empowered to make the decisions that need to be made for the health of mother and baby. This commitment to putting the mother in control of her birth goes beyond labor. Liz is passionate about post natal care as she knows how critical those first weeks after birth are for bonding and transitioning into a new, beautiful life.
Liz, as well as all the midwives at Neighbourhood Midwives, will visit the mother and baby 4-5 times in the first week after birth, two times the second week, and once the third week. However, when a birth doesn’t go as planned, Liz will make daily visits until both parties are comfortable. Liz has even stayed at the home until mum and babe were on the mend.
Healthcare in any country can be confusing, and Ireland is no different. Liz explained that “although maternity care is provided under the HSE, Health Service Executive, home birth is only offered by two other establishments with a narrow scope and little, to no, room for negotiation if your pregnancy goes outside their policies”. Women seeking a home birth or more control over their birth choices, look to private companies and use private insurance or pay out of pocket. Quoted from the Neighbourhood Midwives website: “Neighbourhood Midwives work in partnership with UK Birth Centres to bring private maternity services to Irish families. Informed choice is the foundation of our service. All clinical care is provided by Irish midwives employed by UK Birth Centres”. Neighbourhood Midwives is currently serving select areas in Ireland, but they hope to be country wide in the future. If you would like to have care in your neck of the woods, reach out and let your hopes be heard!