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'It's a postcode lottery': Anomaly scans not available to pregnant women across Ireland

A number of elements of maternity care are not available to all mothers because they are not offered in their local maternity unit.

Image: Shutterstock/Andrey_Popov

A NEW GUIDE compiled by the parent support charity Cuidiú has revealed wide variations in maternity services available across Ireland.

The guide consists of birthing statistics and the policies, practices and services carried out in each of the hospitals.

It aims to give parents information on what they can expect from their local services and is based on data collected from all of the maternity units in the state.

The guide reveals a wide variation in practices between different hospitals in areas such as the total number of caesarean births and the spontaneous onset of labour.

It also shows that a number of elements of maternity care are not available to all mothers because they are not offered in their local unit.

Anomaly scans at 20 weeks and the provision of routine antenatal anti-D prophylaxis injections for Rhesus (Rh-D) negative women at 28 weeks were among the care elements that were not universally available because of logistical issues or a lack of resources.

“To use a cliche, it’s a postcode lottery, definitely,” Cuidiú’s Niamh Healy said to TheJournal.ie. “You have more choices in some of the hospitals.”

Healy said that it’s important that parents know that different caregivers regularly have markedly different views of what’s the best course of action for a mother.

“Parents think maternity services are standard. We need them to be aware that everything that’s said is worth discussing, so they can make decision what’s best for them,” she said.

Doctors are not used to people not accepting their advice but the decision of what to do always lies with parents. Parents should try and draw out as much information from caregivers as possible.

The data reveals that the rate at which mothers attempt a vaginal birth after a previous caesarean ranged from 29% to 57%. Cuidiú say this figure is an indicator of the degree to which women are being provided with information and encouragement by the maternity unit.

The guide shows that all of the maternity units have showers and most of them have baths. About two-thirds have floor mats and about half have beanbags. Not all units have chairs that are suitable for rocking and reclining.

The statistical set is not complete for some of the maternity units because the hospitals don’t collect.

Cuiduí’s website allows people to search what’s available in their local unit.

About the author:

Ceimin Burke

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