Friday, 12 August 2016

Bereavement Standards - Terminology Clarification on Fatal Foetal Abnormality

This photo, taken by an AIMSI committee member, is from the Bereavement Standards Following Pregnancy Loss and Perinatal Death which was launched on August 10, 2016 and attended by AIMSI.

Contrary to belief within some circles, the term 'fatal fetal abnormality/anomaly' IS IN THE DOCUMENT, where it is explained (see photo) that there is no legal, medical, ethical or 'right' way to refer to these tragic cases. The point was also made by each of the speakers (Dr Ciaran Browne, Mr Tony O'Brien & Minister Simon Harris) that there is no symbolism in the language used and the terms are interchangeable and self determined. Indeed, each of the speakers used various terminology throughout the launch.

Hope this clears up any misinformation. ‪#‎bereavmentstandards‬ ‪#‎FFA‬ ‪#‎tfmrireland‬

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Human Rights for Jess #humanrightsforjess #repealthe8th

This morning AIMS Ireland posted this photo with the caption:

"Spotted in Dublin this morning.... #repealthe8th #humanrightsforjess"
A bit more on Jess...The 8th Amendment affects pregnant people who want to be pregnant as well as those who do not. Jess's right to informed consent and informed refusal is removed due to the 8th Amendment. The National Consent Policy of Ireland directly cites the 8th Amendment as a barrier to informed consent/refusal in pregnancy, labour, and childbirth. Jess should be supported to enjoy the same freedom to consent which is outlined (and protected) to all other non-pregnant people in Ireland. Jess's ability to informed decision making - to make the best decision for her & her baby in their specific circumstances in pregnancy & childbirth has been removed from her. AIMSI speak to pregnant people daily whom have had their rights removed. Human rights in childbirth is real. ‪#‎humanrightsforjess‬ ‪#‎repealthe8th

More on Human Rights violations in Ireland as a ramification of the 8th Amendment:

Full article by AIMSI Secretary Sinead Redmond  HERE

Sunday, 24 April 2016

AIMSireland issues Proclamation to the Birthing Women of Ireland

AIMSIreland Proclamation

This proclamation from AIMSIreland to the Birthing Women of Ireland is to mark the centenary of the original Irish Proclamation which was read from the GPO 100 years ago today. The original proclamation strove to ensure equal rights for all the future citizens of Ireland, a worthy aspiration that has yet to be fully realised.

There are many areas of maternity care which are not equitable, not evidenced based and in which women and the babies they are birthing could be better served. Under the 8th amendment to the Irish Constitution women are not treated as equal citizens once they become pregnant. They surrender bodily autonomy to the State and as such are not free. AIMSIreland strives to fight these inequities and to ensure that all women who birth in Ireland have the right to safe, compassionate, evidenced based care and bodily autonomy.

Watch our Proclamation video here

AIMSIreland to the Birthing Women of Ireland

WOMEN of Ireland: In the name of all those women who have gone before you and of the dead generations from which you draw your strength to birth, AIMSIreland summons you to our Charter for Safe Maternity care and strikes for the freedom of all women to choose, to be fully informed and to be treated with compassion and dignity in our maternity services.

Having organised and trained her advocates through her outspoken organisation; and through other Irish voluntary birth advocacy organisations, having resolutely waited for the right moment to reveal itself, AIMSIreland now seizes that moment, and supported by her sister global advocates, but relying in the first on her own strength, she strikes in full confidence of victory.

We declare the right of the women of Ireland to the ownership of their bodies and to the unfettered control of their destinies, to be sovereign and indefensible. The long usurpation of that right by the state and health care professionals has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of all women in Ireland. In every generation women of Ireland have asserted their right to bodily autonomy and sovereignty; countless times during the past hundred years they have asserted it collectively and individually. Standing on that fundamental right and again asserting it on social media in the face of the world, we hereby proclaim the bodies of the birthing women of Ireland as independent and autonomous and we pledge our lives and the lives of our fellow advocates to the cause of its freedom, of its welfare, and of its equality among citizens.

AIMSIreland hereby claims the allegiance of all women of Ireland to call for improved maternity care. We demand equal rights and equal opportunities for all women in birth, and declare our resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of all birthing women, cherishing all of the birthing women of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by the State, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.

Until our advocacy has brought the opportune moment for the establishment of a safe compassionate dignified maternity service we will carry the mantle of ceaseless questioning.

We place the cause of Improving the Irish Maternity Services under the protection of the moral high ground Whose blessing we invoke upon our campaign and we hope that no one who serves that cause will dishonour it by cowardice.

In this supreme hour AIMSIreland must, by its valour and determination, and by the readiness of its committee and membership to work voluntarily for the common good, prove itself worthy of the august destiny to which it is called.

Signed on behalf of AIMSIreland
Krysia Lynch
Breda Kearns
Jene Hinds Kelly
Sinead Redmond
Helen Guinane
Lucy Peprah
Barbara Western
Rebecca Hegarty
Nuala Hoey
Lisa Finnegan
Edel Quirke
Aisling McCarthy

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Launch of the Maternity Strategy for Ireland 2016-2026

The Association for the Maternity Services Ireland (AIMSI) welcomes the Maternity Strategy for Ireland 2016 - 2026

For more information call Krysia Lynch 0877543751

AIMSI welcomes the Maternity Strategy for Ireland launched today 27th January 2016.  by Minister Leo Varadkar.  AIMSI was delighted to be able to participate in the steering group for the last nine months via its Chair Dr.Krysia Lynch.

The Maternity Strategy when implemented will offer women and their families increased choices in maternity care. Women who are experiencing a normal straightforward pregnancy will have the option of birthing at home, in an alongside birth centre or in a specialist birth centre. The first two options will offer women with a normal pregnancy a much increased chance of a normal birth, with interventions not being routine but only carried out on request or necessity, and where the lead carer will be a midwife.

Women who are of medium risk or of high risk will not have any increased choices, and will birth in an obstetric led specialist birth centre. AIMSI are disappointed that for women who have only transient risks or marginal increased risks there will be no choice in care setting as there is for example in the recently launched GAIN guidelines in Northern Ireland. AIMSI are further disappointed that free standing birth units are not recommended in this strategy, even though the evidence for their safety is stronger than for home birth, which the Strategy does recommend, and even though there was a clear overwhelming demand for in the public consultation.

AIMSI welcomes the Minister's comments on perinatal mental health at the launch of this strategy and the need for increased service provision in this area that the strategy recommends. AIMSI also welcomes the increase in a community midwifery service that this Strategy recommends for antenatal, postnatal and intrapartum care as being cost effective, designed to meet the growing demand for women to have more care within the community and cognisant of the views of the many service users who took part in the consultation.

AIMSI welcomes the increased provision that the Strategy recommends for information and audit. The strategy recommends that evidenced based information be made available in a one stop shop for for women and that women be advised of their options at the start of their pregnancy using evidence rather than clinician preference. The Strategy also recommends that HIQA will annually audit the maternity services, which AIMSI welcomes.

The Strategy recognises the effect of birth trauma on women and the Minister made reference to this in his speech at the launch. AIMSI are delighted to hear that there will be recommendations to assist women who experience birth trauma, as so many of our calls come from women who have had traumatic experiences in our maternity services.

AIMSI are delighted to see that the Strategy recommends the provision of alongside birth centres even in smaller units. AIMSI also welcomes the provision made for smaller units to comply with dedicated home from home rooms to act as alongside birth settings with midwives as lead carers until an alongside birth centre can be built as this will ensure continued provision of maternity services in rural areas.

AIMSI welcomes the importance that this Strategy places on breastfeeding and its role in life long health. We welcome the recommendations that all hospitals achieve Baby Friendly Status and that women should have free access 24/7 to lactation consultants within hospital settings and also free access in the community.

Finally, AIMSI welcomes the provision made for service user representation in the implementation of the Strategy and in continuing review of the maternity services

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Strategic review of the maternity services: the importance of service user representation

On Saturday 23rd May 2015, the Irish Times printed an article which highlighted a letter sent from the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Ireland to the Minister for Health Leo Varadkar about the Membership of the Strategy Review Steering Group.

AIMSI Ireland through their Chair Krysia Lynch has a place on the committee representing the views of service users. Also on the committee are two service users whose babies died in Portlaoise Hospital.

In the letter, Prof Robert Harrison, said his members were "dismayed about the make-up of the group". He stated that the presence of three obstetricians and no anaesthetists or critical care specialists, compared to nine people from a midwifery background and three lay people, “does not reflect a fair balance of those who work in maternity services today”.

The letter implies that those who work in the maternity services should dominate how future maternity services are delivered and planned. It  discusses ratios of those that work in the maternity services today and assumes wrongly, as it turns out, that obstetricians should have the majority of seats. There are many more midwives working in the maternity services than obstetricians; it is logical that the majority view around the table should be from midwives. Perhaps what the statement really means to imply is that obstetricians have grown accustomed to dominating discussions surrounding maternity services, and suddenly finding themselves not in a majority is unfamiliar and unwelcome territory.

The reporting of the letter in the Irish Times implies that the querying of the service users by Prof Harrison was insensitive and inappropriate given the way these women had been treated by the members of his own profession.

Whilst the comments re service users made in the letter received a lot of publicity, little commentary was made on the demands from the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Ireland for the inclusion of a critical care representative and  the inclusion of an anaesthetist representative; both of which were duly appointed following the request from the Institute. 

An interesting question that the letter does not address is whether the inclusion of two service users and one advocacy organisation is sufficient. AIMSI would argue (along with the other service users representatives) that 70,000 maternity care service users might deserve even more than two service users representing them. To this end AIMSI also wrote to the Strategic Review Committee suggesting the inclusion of a further consumer representative who had perhaps experienced a different model of care and a different outcome to those already included. AIMSI were told no further representatives could be added.

On Tuesday 25th May 2015 AIMSI issued the following statement:

"The recent comments in the Irish Times questioning the inclusion of two service users was unhelpful. This group might not be sitting if it were not for the experience of the service users on the committee. Their bravery in coming forward  and the support they received from advocacy groups is an important aspect of improving maternity services for women in Ireland, and AIMSI would if anything be advocating for more service user inclusion on the group"

The full article can be read here

The second article following Prof Harrison s resignation can be read here

Monday, 18 May 2015

SHOUT BACK - YOUR SAY: A Note on the Issue of Balance

AIMSI have received quite a few messages on our SHOUT BACK - YOUR SAY submissions; passionate pleas to include positive stories in the interest of balance.

AIMS Ireland spent 42 weeks highlighting positive, healthy birth in Ireland. (
42 weeks was well received, particularly by health care providers. However, during this campaign, many women contacted us who felt isolated; that their voice and experience was not represented.

SHOUT BACK - YOUR SAY represents a safe place for women to share their experiences which were not positive. These submissions are vitally important as they represent a voice which rarely has the opportunity to be heard; those who survive. AIMS Ireland passionately believe that experiences of abuse, disrespect, assault, unsafe care practice should not matter less simply because the woman and baby survive.  Yet these experiences are too often dismissed consistently by our politicians, policy makers, care providers, and media.

Baby alive. Mother alive. Non story. Regardless of the profound impact on the physical and psychological wellbeing of women, babies, families - the health and lives of all involved.

Assistance with complaints and birth trauma is the #1 reason why women make contact with AIMS Ireland. The SHOUT BACKs representing a small percentage of what comes into our inbox.

We need to be very careful that in a desire to create balance, we do not dismiss the experiences of women who have not had positive experiences. The SHOUT BACKs are difficult to read. They represent everything we hope to change in the Irish maternity system. These experiences are real and need to be heard in their own light, not buried. Its so important we do not dismiss these women's experiences by asking for the focus to change - to make us all feel more comfortable, by including positive stories.

It is in everyone's interests that these experiences are acknowledged and the courage that these women and families have shown in coming forward is respected. They are heartbreaking and very difficult reading but their place in the maternity care system is of huge importance; it is as a result of this opportunity to share, just at this particular time, that REAL change may come about.

Balance is about hearing and facing up to the difficult things. People are living with the repercussions of such treatment - often alone, isolated, while taking care of their young families - and up to now they have remained unheard and unacknowledged.

It is vital that we do not look back at this opportunity in 20 years time and say "if only we'd listened".

Friday, 17 April 2015

More of this please! Positive stories set the bar


AIMSI are delighted to hear that women are reporting positive experiences and hopefully this trend will continue.

We acknowledge the many individual care-givers, unit leaders, and other individuals in the Irish maternity system whom are attempting, in so far as hospital protocols allow them, to introduce more woman-centred care which realises evidence based findings and the significance optimum care has on women's physical, mental and emotional well-being; which has far-reaching impact on not only her health, but that of her family and baby.

The long term benefits of providing evidenced, supportive, women-centred care would also be seen down the line in terms of demands on the health services and other resources.

It is becoming clearer, as more research is done internationally in this area, that disrespectful and uncaring, and thoughtless treatment of a woman at such a significant time leaves lasting, very often hidden scars, unresolved physical injury, and often serious trauma which can go unrecognised and untreated. AIMS Ireland's support and advocacy services witness this on a daily basis.

It is wonderful to read this positive story in the Times, however, AIMS Ireland recognise that this level of care is not offered to all women accessing maternity services in Ireland. This should not be.

AIMSI will continue unceasingly in its efforts to ensure that every woman in the Irish maternity system has access to evidence based, kind, supportive care with a strong emphasis on informed decision making in order to support each woman to make the best decisions for her and her baby in her unique circumstances.

Very much remains to be done to realise this reality, including:

recognition of woman's rights in pregnancy
Informed decision making; consent, refusal
providing clear, unbiased information
a range of evidence based, safe care options
effective use of resources
listening to women and their experiences
humanising care for women with "high risk" status and caesarean births - such as skin to skin, baby in recovery, individual assessment, etc

Women should not have to be dependant on the attitude of individual care-givers or unit leaders for respectful and optimum care. Nor should women's care vary depending on the opinion/ routine practice of the care provider they see.

Women should be able to put trust in their maternity care and care providers.

There are very many extremely overworked and exhausted midwives and HCPs - stressed because they are unable to provide the care they know is evidence based and safe. There is much attention placed on the faults of our maternity system, to which there are many. However, AIMS Ireland fully recognises the very many wonderful care providers, who strive to bring the best practice and evidence based care to those they care for. There are pockets of amazing, supportive care in Ireland and these individuals are the backbone of these stories!

AIMS Ireland hope that maybe, someday, positive stories, such as the one here and others from 42 weeks campaign will be the norm for ALL.

Until then, all the negative experiences and feedback received from women must be carefully scrutinised and recognised as powerful tools of change. Lessons to learn from. A mirror to show us where we are - and where we must go. It is not an 'either/or' situation and we need the support of the media and Government to recognise this. ALL experiences are part of the system. ALL are worthy and should be heard. Only when we are able to be accepting and acknowledging of this - by highlighting what needs to be changed and what can be achieved - will women, babies and families get the optimum care and treatment they deserve and need.

This woman's story shows it can be done.
Here is the bar.
RISE to it!


Irish Times: Maternity services: ‘I felt safe in the hands of the professionals’