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Women’s experiences of maternity care outside of hospital

12 April 2021 Press release, Report

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A report on maternity care provided in the community, as part of the National Maternity Experience Survey 2020, shows that for almost 90% of women who responded, their GP was the first point of contact once they became pregnant. This report also identified geographical differences when it comes to accessing postnatal GP care for women.


Most respondents were positive about the care and support they received, saying they were treated with respect and dignity, were spoken to in a clear, understandable way and had confidence and trust in their healthcare professional.


However, the survey also identified significant variation in attendance at the 2-week postnatal check-up. While most women across the country attended this check-up, the numbers were notably lower for women living in the north-west of Ireland — Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal. Nationally, 84.7% of women attended their 2-week postnatal check-up with their GP; however, the numbers were significantly lower for women living in Donegal (44.4%), Leitrim (46.3%) and Sligo (47.1%). Of those who did not attend, most said it was because they did not know about it.


Speaking about the report, Director of the National Care Experience Programme, Rachel Flynn said:


“Care begins in the community and to that end, it is crucial that pregnant women can trust and have confidence in the treatment and advice they receive from their GP or family doctor.


It is hugely encouraging to see that a majority of women have reported positive experiences as they prepare for one of life’s major milestones.


More concerning however, is the correlation between geographical location and the provision of post-natal services. It is important that women in Donegal, Leitrim and Sligo are afforded the same opportunities and can have the same expectation of care provision those in Ireland’s urban centres.


It is clear that there is still work to be done to ensure women and babies across Ireland have access to the care and support they need.”


When asked if their GP, practice nurse or midwife had answered their post natal questions in a way that they could understand, 70.6% of women said they were always.

However, it was evident that a significant number felt that insufficient time was spent discussing their physical and mental health at the 6-week postnatal check-up.


Find out more about the maternity care provided in the community by general practitioners, practice nurses and midwives here.