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Thirteen babies born at home – and more planned – as trust sets up dedicated team

'While our home birthing service was suspended due to the pandemic ... we were keen to modernise and re-establish this option'

Mums-to-be from across the southern area who want to give birth to their baby at home are now being supported by a new team.

The Birth at Home team has been set up by the Southern Trust.

Since the initiative started in November 2021, the team of midwives has worked with community colleagues to birth 13 babies at home, with more planned in the coming months.

The service was officially launched at a water birth conference hosted by the trust this week.

Water birth is available to support women with pain relief during labour at both Daisy Hill and Craigavon Area hospitals and by the Birth at Home team.

International water birth specialist Dianne Garland shared her expertise and knowledge with midwives from across all services with an interest in upskilling in this area.

The new Birth at Home team: Paula Murray, Sadie Porter and Andrea Prichard. Amanda Dharmaratne was unavailable for the photo

The new team is managed by Paula Murray who returned to take up the post after many years of experience with Birth at Home in Scotland.

Paula Boyle, lead midwife for community, said: “Whilst regrettably like many other services, our home birthing service was suspended due to the pandemic, with increasing requests, we were keen to modernise and re-establish this option for local women.

“We were absolutely delighted to offer specialist training to our community team and upgrade our equipment so that those women who choose to birth their babies in the familiarity of their own home, can receive a much improved service.”

Congratulating the new team, Caroline Keown, assistant director for integrated maternity and women’s health, added: “This is a very exciting time for maternity services in the southern area as we can now offer a much broader range of options for women, depending on their clinical needs.

“Both Daisy Hill and Craigavon hospitals have dedicated midwifery led units, for those women who can safely choose to birth in a more home-from-home environment, where natural labour is promoted.

Pictured at the Southern Trust Waterbirth conference are Caroline Keown, Assistant Director for Integrated Maternity and Women’s Health, guest speaker, Dianne Garland, Wendy Clarke, Head of Midwifery and Gynaecology, Paula Boyle, Lead Midwife for Community with staff midwives, Maria Garvey, Andrea Prichard, Lorraine McKeown, Sadie Porter, Dianne Garland, Grainne Murphy and Paula Murray.

“Those with higher risk pregnancies, who may need medical intervention, will be referred to a consultant obstetrician who will lead on their care.

“Whatever your needs, our amazing midwifery and obstetric teams will support and advise you to ensure the safest care for you and your baby.”

To find out more, expectant mothers interested in birthing at home can email birth.athome@southerntrust.hscni.net  or discuss with their midwife as early as possible in the pregnancy.

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