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Mums now giving birth in corridors, say hospital group

Mothers are having to give birth in corridors due to overcrowding in Dublin's maternity hospitals, it has been claimed.

Campaigners say the pressures on hospitals are so great that some women never make it to the delivery rooms.

The Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services (AIMS) said there is evidence that corridor births are taking place. It is calling for a greater emphasis on midwife-led births to reduce the number of hospital visits by mothers with "low-risk" pregnancies.

"Corridor births will happen from time to time, usually when labour goes very quickly and when there is very intense pressure on the hospitals" said AIMS spokeswoman Krytsia Lynch.

"But I'm sure mothers' privacy is maintained as best they can in those circumstances. The last KPMG report recommended that the maternity hospitals need to expand.

"That is the long-term solution to the issue of overcrowding in hospitals. After all, there are only around 33 delivery beds in the whole of Dublin. In the shorter term, we are calling for more midwife-led care.

Midwives

"If we had more community-based midwives, more ante and post-natal care could be given in the community, which would free up space in the maternity units. But the HSE is not employing midwives at the moment and those who are retiring are not being replaced".

At least one new mother, writing on an internet forum last week, gave an account of her corridor birth at the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street. The hospital has said it could not comment on individual cases but stopped short of denying that such births happened.

"I can't say it has never happened but it's not usual at all," said the hospital's director of midwifery and nursing, Mary Brosnan.

"What does happen, if there isn't a delivery room due to overcrowding and someone comes in in a very fast labour, they will be put into an ante-room, but we try to give everybody the privacy and dignity they need".

The hospital has 10 delivery rooms and an average day sees around 25 births, but this can rise to 40 on a busy day. Ms Brosnan confirmed that women who do not get to go to the delivery rooms were unable to be given epidurals for safety reasons.

"If that situation arises, a woman is moved in as soon as room is available. We are in the middle of a huge number of births -- 9,000 a year in Holles Street. But I have to stress the vast majority of women coming through have a very positive experience."

aphelan@herald.ie