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Local Mums welcome Limerick Birthing Pool

UMHL Water pool

The new birthing pool has already become a wonderful addition to the facilities at Maternity Hospital Limerick (UMHL), with local mums praising the sense of calm and empowerment they felt during their labours.

It is part of the newly opened Danu Suite which is the ‘home from home’ delivery room for women with less complex pregnancies.

One of the first mothers to use it was Sarah Dineen, from Ballina, Co Tipperary. Baby Fiadh was born in the Danu Suite on June 20th.

“My hope and my expectation was that everything about my labour would be as natural as possible. I had heard that the pool was going to be available and I was hoping that nothing would happen to delay it before Fiadh was born. Thankfully, everything worked out for us and it was great to have such a relaxing environment and the support of the staff, who were fantastic,” said Sarah.

With memories of a previous traumatic birth experience, Limerick mum Aoife Wilmot was determined that her delivery go as naturally as possible and without any interventions.

“I had set out my birth plan and had hoped not to use pain relief if I could. My first labour and delivery was very difficult so I did a lot of research and did the Gentle Birth programme, helping to create an ideal labour in my head,” explained Aoife.

She hadn’t even heard about the new birthing pool and was thrilled when the midwife on the labour ward asked her if she wanted to try it.

“I was struggling in the labour and was thinking that I wouldn’t last without an epidural if things didn’t progress. I was so relieved when the midwife mentioned the birthing pool, I jumped at the chance to use it,” said Aoife.

She explained that she was in the pool for at least two hours during five hours of hard labour and said it definitely helped to alleviate her pain.

“I am convinced that it made everything so much more manageable. It was a great distraction and also helped me to get into a good position for the labouring. The water takes all the weight of the baby and I was able to move around more easily,” she said.

“I definitely felt like I went to ‘the other world’ that people talk about in labour. My second labour was without an epidural but it was a quick labour so I didn’t feel like I went to that place during the labour. But the whole experience of the pool made me much calmer and in the moment during the birthing process.”

She came out of the pool shortly before baby Sean came into the world.

“I was ready to come out by then. It had helped me through all of the contractions and I felt ready for the delivery,” said Aoife.

She was full of praise for the midwives who she said were all in tune with her wishes during the labour.

“The staff were so lovely and understood exactly what I wanted. And Sean is the most content little baby. I 100pc believe that is linked to the way he came into the world – he had such a peaceful and lovely delivery. His oldest brother had such a traumatic birth and was bruised and cut from the foreceps and he was so unsettled for the first few weeks.”

The refurbishment project at UMHL includes a pool for water immersion in labour and, in line with the National Maternity Strategy 2016-2026, provides for greater maternal choice and the normalisation of labour.

The initiative is the result of focused multidisciplinary teamwork at UMHL. And it follows significant input from service users who were instrumental in choosing the colours, facilities and layout of the room. Having the newly refurbished, comfortable, low-tech birth room with labour aids and pool is very much in line with the recommendations of the National Maternity Strategy - in having an interim alongside birth room - and is an example of UMHL’s responsiveness and willingness to provide choice for women and deliver on the strategy in Limerick.  

The name has been chosen by UMHL staff after the Celtic goddess Danu, who is associated with the Tuath De Danann, with fertility and abundance and with water.

Water immersion is one of a number of supports provided in the Danu Suite to facilitate natural labour and holistic care. The room is not dominated by a bed and women are free to move from the floor to leaning against the bed, to the ensuite shower, to using a birthing ball/labour aids.

Joan Regan, Principal Officer, Department of Health and Steering Group member, National Maternity Strategy, said: “The National Maternity Strategy represents a significant development for maternity care in Ireland and aims to provide a service where women have access to safe, high quality, nationally consistent, woman-centred maternity care.  

“Rightfully, it underlines that women should be treated with dignity, respect and compassion and have choices about the care they receive. I am delighted that the Strategy is being championed so strongly and passionately here in Limerick. I congratulate all concerned for their energy and commitment to drive service improvements for the women and families in the MidWest.”