I went as a public patient for my first baby. I received ante-natal care at Naas hospital, which has a program run by Coombe midwives. I will be going there again for my second child due in Dec 2008. I wouldn't know which other hospital to choose as I live in Co. Kildare. Coombe is the closest.
A i had tested positive for GBS weeks earlier, I got a private birthing room as I'd have to be put on antibiotics. I was shocked to find the bathroom there dirty with bloody sanitary towels and blood on the toilets. No hurry to clean it up for me. The midwives were very good to me and checked in on me often. The doctor ended up using forceps and I got the dreadded episiostimy (which almost everyone whom I know has given birth here got, and have since found out it was invented here in the 1800s!!!). My sister who is a nurse in the USA says they massage they perineal area during labour in the US, which they do not do here. They cut it and don't think twice about using foreceps or a ventouse. I was allowed to start breastfeeding as soon as my son was born. The midwives seemed quite happy that I was confident about doing it. Then I was put into the public ward which was pretty terrible. There were 8 women and 8 babies in the room on the 1st night. I barely got any sleep and wanted to leave but couldn't as my baby had to receive the GBS antibiotics for 72 hours. The nures that came into check on us were either very helpful or stand-offish. One Filipino nurse tried to encourage me to give my baby a bottle of formula each night. She said he would sleep better and get more milk this way. She didn't seem to know much or care about breastfeeding. I finally gave her into one night and thats when I found out my oon had a milk allergy. Yippee!!! No more formula for him! Many Irish women though do not even attempt breastfeeding and the nurses are always going on about how you have a choice. Again, was shocked and sickened at the dirty bathrooms. Maybe 8 stalls in the bathroom and most toilets covered in blood and dirty sanitary napkins sitting on top of the bins. Nobody bothers to flush their toilet. Couldn't wait to get out of there and am dreading the next time I go. Had a big shock when I visited my sister in her room in the States after she had given birth. Room to herself, computer there, big window with view of the Rockies, and peaceful and quiet!
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I didn't choose. I went public. I saw many doctors and only had 2 scans before having the baby ( I had to request the second as an Abnormality Scan).
I should have got Private Medical insurance, but even with this, a private room is not guaranteed. I know two people who had insurance and still had to room with other mothers and babies. I didn't have to pay anything for the birth.
Don't expect any luxuries from the Irish medical experience! Expect a lot of old-fashioned attitude too. Try to befriend the younger Irish nurses and midwives, as these are the ones who are more breastfeeding-friendly and sympahetic.