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Thursday 30 November 2023 Dublin: 3°C
home births

HSE: No timeline for lifting of ban on home water births

The ‘temporary pause’ has been in place since November 2020 pending investigations into two incidents.

THE HSE HAS said the pause on home water births will remain in place until investigations into two incidents are finalised and recommendations are responded to.

There have been calls from community midwives for the resumption of water births as part of the home birth service following what the HSE described as a “temporary pause” in November 2020.

The HSE has said all other components of its homebirth service remain in place and pregnant women still have the option of immersing in water during labour. However they cannot remain in the water for the delivery of their babies. 

  • Read more here on how you can support a major Noteworthy project into why the Irish health service offer so little choice for expectant mothers.

In a statement to The Journal, the HSE said the pause on the provision of delivering a baby in water in the community will remain in place “pending the investigations into two incidents being finalised and, thereafter, the outcomes of that investigation being considered by the HSE in terms of learnings identified and recommendations made being responded to in a structured manner”.

The HSE said it appreciates that this may be disappointing for women and their families who had planned on having a water birth at home.

“However, the HSE is committed to providing safe and effective care during pregnancy and birth and it is for this reason that this decision was made while the reviews are undertaken,” the statement said. 

The HSE said it estimates that around 40 women per year access the water birth component of its homebirth service. 

Water births continue to be supported in hospitals and the HSE said the National Women and Infants Health Programme (NWIHP) “has invested extensively in designated spaces known as Home-Away-From-Home Birthing Suites being established within or adjacent to existing labour wards, to provide women with a birthing environment that supports a physiological childbirth experience”.

“The provision of birthing and labouring pools is a key element of these birthing suites, with NWIHP targeting that wherever feasible from an infrastructure perspective that all 19 maternity services would have in place the option of labouring and ultimately birthing in water,” it said. 

If you’ve been impacted by this pause on home water births and want to share your story, you can get in touch by emailing

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