Many hospitals now offer more flexibility in their maternity services, operating early discharge schemes, home births and midwives' clinics.
Community Midwives enable women who are deemed at 'low risk of complications' to see members of a dedicated midwives' team for their antenatal visits and to have a member of this team deliver their baby, either in hospital (Domino Scheme) or at home. Antenatal visits are made either to the Community Midwives' Clinic or to a local health centre. Additional visits are made to the woman's home.
Each woman interested in the scheme will have a routine scan at around 18-22 weeks and a full physical examination to assess suitability for the scheme. If any problems develop during the pregnancy or in labour, you will be immediately transferred back to full hospital care
With Community Midwives you are entitled to an early discharge after birth, if you wish, and the midwife will visit you at home for up to a week after the birth. In some areas, Community Midwives provide Domino care where you may be transferred home 6-12 hours after giving birth in hospital, provided there are no complications.
Midwifery-led clinics provide healthy women, who don't have risk factors for pregnancy and labour, a choice in how they access maternity care. A team of experienced midwives provides the care. Mothers can give birth in a uniquely designed birth room where they are cared for by a midwife and where they can avail of facilities such as music, a water pool or supportive aids (for example, gym ball or bean bags) if required. At any point where a problem is detected or anticipated, formal contact is established with the obstetric or paediatric team on call or the woman's GP, if appropriate.
Mothers can have an early discharge home and one of the team of midwives will visit them at home, daily if necessary.
These schemes are available free of charge.
You should make contact with maternity services in your area and ask about schemes operated by them.
A website entitled Bump2babe – the Consumer Guide to Maternity Services in Ireland is produced by Cuidiu: Irish Childbirth Trust and provides information on the different types of maternity services available. Cuidiu is a parent to parent community-based voluntary support group.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.