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Homebirthing Team Steps Up During COVID19

Eilish Askin and Brenda McCabe

The Covid-19 Pandemic has changed many services across the Western Trust area and one area that has seen an increase in demand is our Maternity Services who are supporting mums to be who wish to deliver their baby at home.

Brenda McCabe, Lead Midwife for South West Acute Hospital and Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex said: “I would like to commend all of the Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust) maternity services staff collectively, for all their hard work and commitment through exceptionally challenging times during this pandemic. Every department was thrust into times of uncertainty and yet upheld their duty of care regardless.

The team work and professionalism shone on many occasions and is such that it needs to be acknowledged, as despite our professional responsibilities it should not be forgotten that we are human too with the same fears and personal responsibilities that exist within the general public we serve.”

Brenda continued: “While all of our services have faced many challenges it is evident to me that it cannot go unacknowledged how the impact Covid-19 has had on the increase in demand of the homebirth services in the Western Trust when other services where stood down or paused. This required our midwifery staff to provide a service that while always available did not attract the same numbers which we saw overnight.

We would normally facilitate one home birth per year, however this year we have delivered six babies and currently have fifteen mums to be choosing a home birth as part of their birthing plan. This demand was perhaps caused by thoughts that some mothers felt it was the better choice for them and their family owing to restricted visiting and the virus for them was contained better if they were to remain in their own home. For community midwives facilitating home births was an immense challenge due to Covid-19 restrictions.

“The immediate challenges for our Western Trust home birth midwives was the ability to cover a constant prolonged regular on-call service, in addition to their contracted hours. The midwives felt a strong responsibility to remain healthy and well, to be at work avoiding Covid-19, to support their teams and continue to provide care. The limited information known about this new virus was always in their mind set. A home environment for care where the virus could still exist, but did not have the same protection, policies and protocols of a hospital environment the Trust could provide.

These midwives had child care challenges and other family caring responsibilities; they worried about the risk of exposure they could bring to their vulnerable family members that where in their bubbles.  There was no rule book for them as also for others in the NHS to refer to but they used their professionalism and commitment to provide their duty of care to help steer them. They not only did this but also did it in addition to the normal demands of a service in their usual workload.

“Yet despite all this and their personal turmoil they continued to come together as a team, to provide the highest quality of care for the mothers. This is reflected in the positive feedback responses we have from the many families that availed of this service in recent months and has been a much needed morale boost for our midwives.

Baby Ella Fox and her siblingsBernie Fox from Omagh spoke about her positive home birth experience she said: “On reflection I don’t think they will ever really know the depth of the impact their kindness, professionalism, sensitivity and care they provided to our family before, during and after the birth of little Ella. Whilst the Western Trust community midwives team are all amazing and extremely supportive, Sandra Thompson and Donna Conroy really were the ‘dream team’.


With just half an hour to spare when they arrived at our home, they quickly and quietly got to work, knowing my birth plan from previous conversations and ensuring our wishes were followed as best they could. We could not have asked for more as our beautiful daughter arrived safely! The best home birth experience was made possible by the home birthing team and we are eternally grateful to them for all they have done for us. Thank you so much.”

Brenda concluded: “To me the homebirth midwives are real Western Trust Heroes and I am extremely grateful for their hard work and dedication to ensure mums are supported in their choice to deliver their baby at home. Thank you to each and every one of you for going the extra mile. I wish you a happy and peaceful Christmas with your loved ones and look forward to working with you in 2021.”