AIMS Ireland Press Release — 7th April 2010

Nearly a quarter of women found the care they received in the Irish Maternity System after they gave birth to be 'poor'.

A new survey carried out by AIMS Ireland (Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services, Ireland) found that 22% of women surveyed stated the care they received postnatally was 'poor', whilst a further 23% found the care to be only 'average'. Furthermore, 23% of women rated the quality of information they received from their carer postpartum to be 'poor'. By contrast, only 3% found their care during pregnancy to be 'poor'.

This 'What Matters to You?' survey was carried out by AIMS Ireland during July–December 2009 in an effort to identify areas in which the Irish Maternity System is found to be particularly lacking by its users. It would appear that the further a woman travels down the road of pregnancy and childbirth the worse the care is rated.

Faring particularly badly was the support provided for breastfeeding—a third,, (33%) of women polled said that the support they received for breastfeeding whilst in the Maternity Unit was 'poor'. At a time when there is increased emphasis on raising Ireland's poor breastfeeding rates, and for Irish Maternity Units to achieve WHO Baby Friendly Status, this figure is particularly worrying.

Postnatal care in the community was also rated poorly. A fifth of women (21%) rated the support they received from their Public Health Nurse to be 'poor', and 17% found the care they received at their 6-week check (mostly carried out by GPs) to be 'poor'. Over a third of women (37%), were not asked about their psychological well-being at this check, yet 19% of the sample said they suffered from postnatal depression, a condition often not recognised, diagnosed or formally treated.

"These findings highlight the weak underbelly of Maternity Care in Ireland—namely the poostpartum. Women, often emotionally vulnerable after having given birth, are faced with cramped and understaffed postnatal units where they feel unsupported and overwhelmed. Minimal hospital stays place greater onus on support in the community, which is sadly still lacking for many women" says Krysia Lynch, PRO AIMS Ireland.

Other issues raised by the survey were the lack of choice in care provision in Ireland (lack of midwifery-led options), geographic inequity in existing services and the lack of information on the limited available choices.

AIMS Ireland offers support to women who have had difficult experiences in the Maternity Care Service. See www.aimsireland.com or contact support@aimsireland.com for details of the next Birth Healing Workshop which takes place in Dublin on April 24, 2010.

The full survey report can be downloaded from the AIMS Ireland website at http://aimsireland.com/files/AIMSI_WhatMattersToYou09_SurveyReport.pdf

For more information on the AIMS Ireland survey please contact: Krysia Lynch 087-754-3751

To submit feedback on the report please contact: Tara Durkin, AIMS Ireland Secretary, tara@aimsireland.com

Thank you.

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