International Day of Action for Women’s Health – Closing the gaps in maternity care in Ireland

“The freedom in a country can be measured by the freedom of birth.” ~ Agnes Gereb

May 28th is International Day of Action for Women’s Health. These are our demands to the Irish Government on maternity and human rights issues relating to childbirth in Ireland.

Please join us in calling on the Irish Government to meet these demands and by adding your voice.  Share your stories – what is important to you – change you would like to see in Irish maternity services.

Every woman should feel safe to make the best decisions for her and her baby. She knows her body and her baby best. She knows where she feels safest. Only she knows what she is feeling – what she is experiencing. She is the one who must be responsible for her own decisions .  Medical professionals are there to guide her – support her – but cannot make these decisions for her. Women should not be asked to give the decisions which will impact on her and her baby away to others. AIMS Ireland believe that women should be provided with the best information possible, based on high quality evidence, to help her make the best choices for her and her baby.” ~ AIMS Ireland

How can YOU participate?

Send this list of demands – add ones of your own, to your elected representatives, to policy makers, to the HSE, to your local maternity unit. Share your stories. AIMS Ireland will be posting articles, quotes, and questions to women on our Facebook page – asking for you to add YOUR voice to this global campaign by raising awareness to Human Rights issues in Irish Childbirth – pressing the Government to REALISE THESE RIGHTS.

AIMS Ireland calls on the Irish Government to ensure the following basic rights:

  1. Women have access to full range of maternity choices including midwife led services, homebirth, and obstetric led options in each maternity unit to best meet her individual personal and medical needs.
  2. Dignified and evidence based maternity care.
  3. Recognition of women as the main decision makers in where and how she births. Experts and information can guide her, but the decision is ultimately hers alone, and this decision is to be respected. To facilitate this the Nurses and Midwives Act should be abolished.
  4. The defined right to informed refusal.
  5. The establishment of a fair and accountable complaints system with an independent assessor to ensure transparency and accountability for service user’s complaints.
  6. The compulsory implementation of National Clinical Guidelines at local policy level.
  7. The annual publication of clinical maternity statistics per unit and per main health care provider, to be published online, to aid transparency for services users. This data is of public interest – the HSE and individual units do not have ownership of this important information.
  8. Action on the over-use of routine and non-medically indicated interventions which do not improve outcomes and are shown to do more harm than good.
  9. To recognise maternal morbidity as a threat to a women’s health. All degrees of physical and psychological maternal morbidity are to be included into annual statistics available to the public.
  10. The availability of water immersion for labour and birth in all units.
  11. The removal of the Active Management of Labour policy in all units to be replaced by mother-led care.
  12. The right to privacy of all women in all stages of antenatal care, early pregnancy assessment, labour, childbirth and post natal period.
  13. Repeal of the 8th amendment of the Constitution to ensure women’s human rights in all aspects of maternal health including universal access to safe and legal abortion.
  14. Adequate staffing levels to ensure the availability of midwifery staff to provide one to one care for all women in childbirth.
  15. Maternity care is to be woman-centred and based on evidence – NOT individual health care providers personal beliefs, opinions, or biases.
  16. Each labour and birth is as individual as each woman. Labour and birth is to be treated as normal unless there is clinical indication to suggest otherwise. Intervention based on time limits, where mother/baby are otherwise healthy and happy, is not medical indication.
  17. Acknowledgement that full term in pregnancy is any time between 37-42 weeks and women should not be pressured into induction without medical indication before 42 weeks.
  18. Women should not be denied pain relief options if requested (pharmaceutical or non-pharmaceutical).
  19. Women may have the support partner(s) of her choice with her in antenatal appointments, labour, and birth.
  20. All women should have their booking appointment by 12 weeks.
  21. All women should be offered a booking scan at 12 weeks and an anomaly scan in mid pregnancy.
  22. Antenatal tests/screening programs should be offered to women on a ‘opt in’ basis only. For example screening for strep b, GTT, scans, etc.
  23. Consent is to be sought for each individual test, treatment, procedure in all aspects of a woman’s maternity care. “Blanket” consent forms signed in pregnancy are not an acceptable form of obtaining consent.
  24. Women are to be fully informed of the benefits, risks, and potential consequences in current pregnancy as well as future consequences prior to providing consent for a test, treatment, or procedure. This discussion should take place during the pregnancy and prior to obtaining consent.
  25. All women should have access to specialist maternal mental health services.
  26. The recognition of psychological morbidity – birth trauma and PTSD – following childbirth with appropriate, self-selecting, professional counselling treatment programs for women affected.
  27. All women who choose to breastfeed should have full access to a professional lactation consultant 24-7.
  28. Recognition of midwifery as the experts of normal birth and an autonomous profession. Midwives should be supported by local policy to provide evidence based, normal birth practice, and determine their client base based on their knowledge, skill, and assessment.

Do YOU have any to add? Let us know!

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