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30th Aug 2023

Water births are coming back to Ireland after regulations lifted

Ellen Fitzpatrick

Water births are set to make a comeback in Ireland following a long-term suspension across the country.

After the tragic death of a baby in a birthing pool in the late 2000s, water births were suspended in all Irish hospitals as well as being used for home births.

Those expecting children were allowed to use birthing pools during the labouring phase of their birth, but were required to leave the pool to deliver the baby.

Following more than a decade of the rule in place, hospitals are now bringing back the birthing technique.

According to The Journal, our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda have re-introduced the option for water births after The Coombe Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Dublin and Wexford General Hospital both brought in this as an option.

A HSE spokesperson told The Journal’s Noteworthy that the National Women and Infants Health Programme (NWIHP) is now planning “that whenever feasible from an infrastructure perspective”, all units “would have the option of labouring and ultimately birthing in water.”

There are currently labouring pools in only 11 of the 19 maternity units across the country and only three allow for water births.

In 2020, the HSE “temporarily paused” water births in the public home birth service, stating there was “a small number of incidents”.

An inquest concluded earlier this year that this was due to the death of a baby who was delivered in a birthing pool after the baby contracted an undetected Group Strep B (GSB) infection.

It was then found the birthing pool itself was unlikely to be a contributing factor.