ICM Chief Executive Sally Pairman, was a keynote speaker at the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) National Midwifery Conference in Dublin, celebrating 100 years of midwifery regulation in Ireland on 22 November.
The conference looked back over the past 100 years and forward to what the next 100 years might bring. Like many countries, midwifery in Ireland has faced various challenges of autonomy for midwives from both obstetrics and nursing. A significant achievement in 2011 was new legislation that clearly distinguished midwifery as a separate profession to nursing.
Since 2016, Ireland has aimed to establish more midwife-led and community-based services to meet the needs of women. There are many challenges to implementing these changes including a highly medicalised approach to childbirth care with a high national rate of caesarean section births of about 31%.
“ICM is pleased to see that midwives in Ireland are establishing a separate professional organisation to unite midwives and to help lead these changes.” ICM Chief Executive Sally Pairman
In her address on the future 100 years, Professor Cecily Begley noted that high caesarian section rates can be associated with high rates of maternal death and she suggested that Ireland may see an increase in maternal deaths unless the caesarean section rate is brought down.
All speakers agreed that Ireland needs to make more effective use of its midwives in providing care to the majority of women and in the communities where women live.