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Official opening of Danu Suite at University Maternity Hospital Limerick

Wednesday, 18th July, 2018 10:06am
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Official opening of Danu Suite at University Maternity Hospital Limerick
Official opening of Danu Suite at University Maternity Hospital Limerick

University Maternity Hospital Limerick (UMHL) has officially opened the Danu Suite, the ‘home from home’ delivery room for women with less complex pregnancies.

This refurbishment project includes a pool for water immersion in labour and, in line with the National Maternity Strategy 2016-2026, provides for greater maternal choice and the normalisation of labour.

The initiative is the result of focused multidisciplinary teamwork at UMHL. And it follows significant input from service users who were instrumental in choosing the colours, facilities and layout of the room. Having the newly refurbished, comfortable, low-tech birth room with labour aids and pool is very much in line with the recommendations of the National Maternity Strategy - in having an interim alongside birth room - and is an example of UMHL’s responsiveness and willingness to provide choice for women and deliver on the strategy in Limerick.

The name has been chosen by UMHL staff after the Celtic goddess Danu, who is associated with the Tuath De Danann, with fertility and abundance and with water.

The room is intended for women on supported care pathway; defined in the Strategy as suitable for normal risk mothers and babies, with midwives leading and delivering care in a multidisciplinary framework.

Women are offered the opportunity to labour in water for pain relief. Water for labour is a package of care which includes the actual water and the associated environment. Efforts are made to support a calm, positive and peaceful atmosphere for women labouring in water. The pool itself is a large bath in which a pregnant woman can sit or adopt a range of different positions to optimise her mobility and comfort. The service is only for labouring in water. The woman will deliver her baby out of the water.

Water immersion is one of a number of supports provided in the Danu Suite to facilitate natural labour and holistic care. The room is not dominated by a bed and women are free to move from the floor to leaning against the bed, to the ensuite shower to using a birthing ball/labour aids.

The Danu Suite opened on 31st May and one of the mothers to use it was Sarah Dineen, from Ballina, County Tipperary. Baby Fiadh was born in the Danu Suite on June 20th.

"My hope and my expectation was that everything about my labour would be as natural as possible. I had heard that the pool was going to be available and I was hoping that nothing would happen to delay it before Fiadh was born. Thankfully, everything worked out for us and it was great to have such a relaxing environment and the support of the staff, who were fantastic," said Ms Dineen.

Margaret Quigley, Director of Midwifery, UL Hospitals Group, said: "Over the last two years we have had frequent requests from women to have a room which meets their needs and birth preferences for low risk labour. In tandem, midwives wished to maintain and enhance their midwifery skills. We had great support from our Consultant Obstetrician colleagues, in particular Dr Mark Skehan, and many other grades of staff contributed to its success. We are very fortunate to have very dedicated staff in our Midwifery Practice Development Unit supporting the change in practice and the Estates Department general management assisted to make it happen. The combination of all these factors has led to this successful opening of the Danu Suite and I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone involved for embracing the change".

Joan Regan, Principal Officer, Department of Health and Steering Group member, National Maternity Strategy, said: "The National Maternity Strategy represents a significant development for maternity care in Ireland and aims to provide a service where women have access to safe, high quality, nationally consistent, woman-centred maternity care. Rightfully, it underlines that women should be treated with dignity, respect and compassion and have choices about the care they receive. I am delighted that the Strategy is being championed so strongly and passionately here in Limerick. The opening of the country's first. ' interim Alongside Birth Room since the Strategy was launched is indeed a cause for celebration. I congratulate all concerned for their energy and commitment to drive service improvements for the women and families in the MidWest."

And Prof Colette Cowan, CEO, UL Hospitals Group, said: "Today marks another milestone on our journey in implementing the National Maternity Strategy at UMHL. Our maternity hospital is over 50 years old and, while much loved by patients and staff, it is starting to show its age. Relocating the maternity hospital to the UHL site, as set out in the Project Ireland 2040 plan, is a hugely exciting project for us and will allow us to implement the strategy in full. But in the meantime, we must continue to improve our services for women and babies in this hospital.

"This is something our staff and our service users are taking on with great enthusiasm and the Danu Suite is the latest example of that. It gives greater choice for women and makes childbirth a less clinical, less intimidating experience. We continue to make great strides in implementing the Strategy in Limerick and we look forward next month to the official launch of our perinatal mental health service, another exciting service development which has been designed with the input of patients and staff and is being implemented with significant support from the National Women’s and Infants Health Programme," Prof Cowan added.

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