More than 11,000 babies may have been born in Ireland’s hospitals since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in late February, according to new projections from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).
The figures have been published to mark International Day of the Midwife today (Tuesday, May 5th), which celebrates and recognises the role of midwives in delivering expert care and supporting women and babies.
2020 is also the WHO’s Year of the Nurse and Midwife.
The INMO projections are based on an analysis of data for births between the dates of February 27th and May 5th over the past decade.
Annual data shows that in 2018, Cork University Maternity Hospital was the fourth busiest maternity hospital in the country.
It recorded 7,577 births for the year, which equates to more than 630 births per month or 20 births a day.
According to the INMO, there are currently 1,479 staff midwives working in the public health service nationally, which is below the scientifically recommended ratio of one midwife to every 29.5 births.
The union is calling on all parties to not only recognise the work done by midwives, but to ensure that staffing levels are set scientifically.
INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said: “as COVID-19 puts pressure on our health service, midwives are there for mothers and babies, providing care, comfort, advocacy and advice.
“While much has been put on hold during the pandemic, childbirth has continued as normal. Today alone, midwives in Ireland will welcome over 150 new people to the world.”
The INMO General Secretary added: “the skill and dedication of midwives not only deserves recognition, but support. Consistent understaffing has put midwifery under pressure, leaving overworked staff to pick up the slack.
“The next government must ensure that the promise of safe staffing in the National Maternity Strategy is upheld, and staffing numbers set by scientific safe levels.”