Last year witnessed an over 30 per cent increase in the number of births that took place in homes, according to figures provided to this newspaper by the HSE.
An Executive spokesperson told the Medical Independent (MI) that the pandemic has seen an increase in demand for the HSE homebirth service. The spokesperson confirmed that this rise in demand has continued into 2021.
Of those who were approved for the service in 2020, 206 delivered in their home. In 2019 this figure was 156, and in 2018 it was 134.
In total, in 2020, 354 women were approved for the HSE homebirth service. This compares to 272 in 2019, and 231 in 2018.
The significant difference in numbers between those approved for the service and those who deliver in their home (354 and 206 last year) is accounted for the transfer of care of these women during their pregnancy and/or labour to their nearest hospital based maternity service in the interest and safety of them and their babies.
“The increase in demand for service in 2020 did intensify due to the Covid-19 pandemic and women’s increased desire to not attend hospitals for delivery and to have their chosen birth partner with them for all stages of their pregnancy, intrapartum and postnatal journey,” the spokesperson told MI.
“The upturn in demand appears to be continuing in 2021 year to date. The HSE at national level will be collating figures in this regard in due course as women continue to contact and book with the service if they are deemed clinically appropriate.”