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Interventions for first-time mothers "worryingly high" in Irish hospitals

The data was released by the HSE to AIMS Ireland, which said it has queries about the accuracy of the figures.

imagePic: Shutterstock

THE LEVEL OF interventions for first-time mothers in Irish hospitals is “worryingly high”, a maternity services advocacy organisation has said today.

AIMS Ireland has revealed data on birth statistics from Ireland’s 19 public maternity units for 2012 on foot of an FOI request to the HSE.

imageCan’t read the data? Click here.

Raising concerns

Krysia Lynch, co-chair of AIMS Ireland said that the figures raise a number of concerns.

In the first instance, the rates of interventions to first time mothers are worryingly high. It points once again to the inappropriateness of a consultant-led care model for healthy, low risk mothers.

Lynch said that there is “no medical reason” for such high levels of intervention, and that the effects of these interventions on first-time mothers “will influence the outcome of any future pregnancies they may have”.

She also said that AIMS Ireland is concerned about the accuracy of the figures reported to the Healthcare Pricing Office, as there seems to be some discrepancy in figures provided to ESRI and figures published by the hospital.

Additionally, these figures published today suggest that four out of 19 maternity units did not record any vaginal births after Caesareans in 2012. The only units which would have a 0.0 per cent VBAC rate should be midwife-led units (MLUs), which do not book women who have had a previous Caesarean. We would seriously question the accuracy of this and query the quality of data recording and reporting going on in units around the country.

The vaginal births after Caesarean (VBAC) figures, with exceptions in a small amount of maternity units, show that the amount of VBACs taking place as a percentage of overall births is very low, said AIMS.

The organisation believes this indicates that women “are not being supported by their local maternity unit to have a VBAC if they so wish”.

“There are obviously care provider barriers here that need to be addressed,” said Lynch.


The figures also show the range of breastfeeding rates across Ireland’s hospitals, from  66.8 per cent at the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin to 38 per cent at the Mid-Western Regional Maternity Hospital in Limerick.


The data shows a "stark contrast" in the level of interventions that a first-time mother experiences compared to women who have given birth previously.

For example, C-section rates for first-time mothers varied from 22.95 per cent in Sligo General up to 40.15 per cent in St Luke’s Hospital Kilkenny. Both units also reported extremely low vaginal birth after Caesarean rates, at 0.93 per cent and 3.51 per cent respectively.

Instrumental deliveries and the use of episiotomies were also very high in most units across the country, said AIMS.

Forceps and episiotomies

Over 35 per cent of first-time mothers in Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH), University College Hospital Galway and Waterford Regional Hospital had a delivery with forceps or vaccum.

When it came to episiotomies, both the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin (39.4 per cent) and CUMH (38.78 per cent) had very high rates of these performed on first time mothers.

The data is available on the AIMS Ireland website.

Read: Women who use a surrogate mother have no right to maternity leave, EU rules>

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