‘We Are Human And Flawed’



Coombe Women’s and Infants University Hospital

Jacky Jones writes that “A misogynistic culture pervades Ireland’s maternity services. A highly interventionist, disempowering model of maternity care still operates in all hospitals”.

I have tried to pass over these recurring slurs on our maternity services but the time has come to respond. I am an obstetrician in the Irish maternity service and am proud to provide skilled, compassionate, woman-centred care on a daily basis, day and night, Monday to Sunday.

I am joined by a workforce of dedicated midwives, obstetricians, anaesthetists, neonatologists, healthcare assistants, porters, receptionists, domestic staff, administrative staff, and others.

The staff I work with are vocationally driven and do everything in their power to ensure that birth is a safe and joyful experience and that when adverse events occur women and their families are treated with respect and dignity.

My experience of other maternity services within the country suggests that this approach is widespread.

Sometimes things go wrong in pregnancy and birth, and we grieve for the loss with our patients. Sometimes we get things wrong and we try to learn from these regretted outcomes, as individuals and as organisations.

We are human and flawed – we do not always deal with things as well as we could or should, but to shame our entire service on a regular basis within the media serves no one.

The response to media outrage is to increase the very intervention rates that Jacky Jones is so ready to criticise us for.

Take a look at the hospitals that have been publicly shamed for adverse outcomes and see what has happened to their Caesarean section rates – fear, criticism, and punitive actions result in unnecessary interventions provided under the guise of safety.

I would like Jacky Jones to offer a public apology to all the women and men like myself who provide safe, effective, women-centred maternity care to the people of Ireland.

By all means pursue the cause of safe termination care for distressed women, but to lay the blame at the door of “misogynistic maternity services” is a step too far.

Deirdre J Murphy, MD
Professor of Obstetrics,
Trinity College Dublin,
Coombe Women and
Infants University Hospital,
Dublin 8.

In defence of maternity services (Irish Times)

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62 thoughts on “‘We Are Human And Flawed’

  1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

    Fair enough. I had a few issues with my pregnancies and the staff in the Coombe could not have been more fantastic from start to finish. It’s a total sh*t-tip of a hospital but the care I got was magnificent.

  2. mildred st. meadowlark

    I’ll second this. I had serious medical issues on the birth of my daughter in the Rotunda and they consistently (with one small exception) out my care and my daughter’s care first. Three months I practically lived in that hospital and the staff were caring, dedicated and went above and beyond their duty. They made what was a truly terrifying and traumatic time manageable and offered support to me and my partner throughout.

    I should add however that most medical front line staff are regarded with admiration and respect for the hard work and dedication they bring to a difficult job, by people I know. At least that has been my experience.

  3. Starina

    maybe nurses at the coombe could try not lecturing new mothers who can’t or don’t want to breastfeed. as was the experience of my friend, who felt very uncomfortable and couldn’t wait to leave the hospital.

    1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

      They actively promote BF in the Coombe these days as they’re going for some BF accreditation thingy or other, but I didn’t/couldn’t and I didn’t get lectured. Though I’m not the type you’d lecture, I have to say, being an aul wan with attitude.

      1. Cynic3000

        “Though I’m not the type you’d lecture, I have to say, being an aul wan with attitude.”

        So you’re probably not the type to learn new things and see other points of view.

      2. Orla

        All lip service. Poorly trained staff regarding BF and little to no postnatal support. Poor and ill informed *advice* handed out to new and struggling mothers. No wonder we’re so woejus in the feeding stakes.

        1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

          Ah, now. There was an evening lecture on breastfeeding beforehand and they sent a very nice lactation specialist in to me when I had problems.
          I had paid for a breastfeeding course beforehand and learned nothing different to that which they taught me in the course in the Coombe.

        2. DubLoony

          My sisters recent experience in the Coombe in BF support was great.
          Some can, some can’t, both should be respected. Mothers are under ridiculous pressure on how best to deal with a birth. whatever makes all parties happy.

          But if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

          1. Leela2011

            I found I had to harass the midwives to help me with fecking, they were mostly lovely and very helpful. no offer of lactation consultant or pump. one was an absolute battle-axe though, very pushy with bf and ‘we’ve no shame in my ward’. had emergency c-section, I believe because epidural slowed the birth down. pretty tough few days, lactation consultant really would have helped

        3. Vote Rep #1

          Courses beforehand and a nurse who called to the house after to help, all under the domino scheme. There is excellent support there. It is explained that it is not easy at the start. I have found that people decide far too quickly that they don’t want to breastfeed and get narky when anyone attempts to say anything about it.

  4. jimmy russell

    She is clearly suffering from internalized misogyny and has been brainwashed by patriarchal doctrines. Women need unlimited abortion on demand otherwise rare cases that are sensationalized as the norm in the media could happen now and then.

  5. Tish Mahorey

    I was born in the Coombe and I have to say I found the experience second to none. Place was very comfortable and as soon as I was born, I met my Mam, lovely woman and was feeding straight away. I’d definitely go back.

  6. Clampers Outside!

    More hysterical misdirected claims of ‘misogyny’… wonder what it’s like to be a female professional doctor, nurse, mid-wife etc. and be called a misogynist working in a misogynist maternity hospital… what wave of feminism is that one I wonder. Ah, well…. you’ll have that.

    1. mildred st. meadowlark

      Clampers, you’re sounding more and more like a sour, wimmin-hating aul’ bastard. And I know you’re not really.

    2. ahjayzis

      You’re really, really anti-feminist these days aren’t you?

      Damn uppity hysterical women.

        1. ahjayzis

          The worst part of rampant gender inequality in the world is definitely having to put up with the women miffed over it. Unacceptable.

          1. ahjayzis

            It’s more that you’ve chosen two tangential posts to bitch about ‘feminism’ just this morning. Like when you called them fascists.

      1. Medium Sized C

        He does seem that way.
        It’s like he actually believes the straw-feminist trope.

        1. Clampers Outside!

          I know Medium, tis awful confusing. Here, in case you forgot, here’s one you wrote recently…

          “Equality between the sexes. If you claim to be feminist, you are saying you believe in equality between the sexes. Not universal equality between all.”

          Awww, bless….. some are just more equal than others eh?!

          Good for you.

          1. Medium Sized C

            Yes, I wrote that, because that is what feminism means.

            And You don’t understand what the word Equality means.

          2. ahjayzis

            ““Equality between the sexes. If you claim to be feminist, you are saying you believe in equality between the sexes. Not universal equality between all.”

            What’s incorrect about this?

            Tories can be feminists – they’re pretty much the anti-equality folks, but they can be feminist. You’re falling into the trap I used to, that all the gays who wanted rights were lefties like me, when it turned out the sexy ones were all in Young Fine Gael. No one’s defined by one aspect of their life/views.

          3. Medium Sized C

            You’ve gone a whole 5 posts on feminism without having a paranoid go at your feminist-boogiewoman Una Mullally, Clampers.

            Don’t ruin it with this childish semantic nonsense.

    3. Nigel

      Remember folks, misdirected claims of misogyny are worse than actual misogyny. Look at how they fascistically silenced this person, reducing them to secretly and discreetly publishing a letter in the national paper of record

      1. Clampers Outside!

        “Remember folks, misdirected claims of misogyny are worse than actual misogyny.”

        You getting into comparing peoples pain now Nigel. tsk, tsk……. poor Nigel, you just don’t get it.

        Your second line is baffling, I see no one hiding in secret to publish anything, but then… you see all sorts don’t you pet.
        Have a lie down, good lad.

          1. Clampers Outside!

            Fupp the MRAs… and fupp the feminists who act out under the name of feminism in a manner that does not favour equality first.

            That is all.

            Equality first… you can have whatever variant of feminism you want after that, thanks.

          2. mildred st. meadowlark

            Clampers if you haven’t had a look yet, check out Emma Watson speaking at the UN HeForShe campaign. It’s a great look at how gender equality should be viewed and how we can change perceptions of gender roles for the better. I posted a link last week and I’d recommend to everyone.

          3. Nigel

            Meh. You’re pulling bad-faith MRA-derived tactics in your responses that you certainly wouldn’t tolerate from bottom-feeding internet feminists. To adopt the position that the real problem with equality is coming from internet feminists, to the extent that those are the people you will repeatedly attack on all occasions, is a shape you have to consciously squeeze yourself into against all the evidence in the world. You don’t need to resort to MRA rhetoric to have a balanced view of these things and critique aspects of feminism or argue whether particular accusations of misogyny are misdirected. In fact, the two things are inimical. So don’t do it. Or do. Your choice. But don’t think joining the seething poisonous mass of internet anti-feminists is striking a blow for equality.

          4. Medium Sized C

            Just for context he is going off on one because I told him that being a feminist doesn’t mean you can’t ignore sexists.

  7. Manolo

    There are some excellent staff in these hospitals, but ‘the missus’ had such a horrifying time at the NMH that we stayed away for the other two births. Doctors refused to even entertain a discussion about a section even after 36 hours of labour. Health wise she never recovered completely. I would love to see religious orders and some sadistic male doctors being kicked out of the national hospitals and exposed publicly for their abhorrent behaviour and negative influence on women’s health.

    1. nellyb

      My unlucky friend had a similar experience about 10 years ago in Dublin hospital. Section was eventually performed, after many hours of unwarranted suffering and, it seems, only because of increasing risk to survival of fetus. My friend recovered physically, but not really psychologically. They had ruled out to have any more children.

    2. Medium Sized C

      I have heard tell……well I actually know a number of people who have pretty horrible stories from Holles Street.
      Undue pressure to take medication etc.

      We never went there, because my wife wouldn’t. Something about their managed labour model or somesuch.

      1. Vote Rep #1

        As far as I know, they have a system where you will have your baby within 12 hrs of entry. Which is mental. No wonder there are such high rates of interventions when they have this sort practice going on.

        1. mildred st. meadowlark

          That’s true. You’re expected to dilate at 1cm/h (which is frankly insane and painful) or they will speed up the contractions using drugs. I chose the Rotunda and had a great experience of our maternity system at work. I wouldn’t pick Holles St if you paid me.

    3. Leela2011

      horrific, can’t imagine having gone that long before my section. have to say the Coombe were excellent and I didn’t feel pressured to do anything. the staff were calm and organised. had heard whispers of problems at Holles St, that finalised my decision to go to the Coombe

  8. Tish Mahorey

    But sure wimmin’ have to have the sex in order to have a baby, the brazen trollops.

  9. Medium Sized C

    Both our experiences with Irish Maternity services were pretty much excellent.
    No hint of misogyny at all.

    Most recently in the Coombe.
    I’m not going into details, but everybody but one obstetrician were excellent.
    And the issue with the noted obstetrician was resolved in a manner you might describe as the absolute opposite of misogyny.

    I don’t even accept the above suggestion that it is a tip of a hospital.

    1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

      It needs updating, to say the very least (though they have fixed up the private wing since I was there). And I saw guys giving/selling drugs to pregnant women outside the Coffee Doc. In broad daylight.

      1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

        I forgot to mention the food. Jesus wept. It’s horrendous. I used to enjoy wondering how they had managed to make such a hames of dinners. Dreadful.

      2. Medium Sized C

        Scumbags gonna bag scum.
        Like the only way to avoid that kind of dirt is to an exclusively private hospital.
        Because we have some drug issues in Dublin. Bad ones.
        It’s certainly not a black mark on the coombe.

        Also if that is the case they have also fixed up a theatre or two since you were there, I believe.
        It certainly seemd fairly spangling when we were there.

        1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

          Good! I didn’t care about the drawbacks as they were so good to me there.

      3. Leela2011

        the shared wards need updating certainly and the beds are uncomfortable. I didn’t make it into a new delivery suite but mine was adequate. I was in Vincent’s a few weeks later and couldn’t believe how dirty it was and how bad the food was. yes Coombe food is a bit microwavey but I survived 4 nights on it fine!

    2. The Real Jane

      Glad you didn’t experience misogyny in childbirth, Medium.

      Lots of us have a different experience though, and misogyny could well be an explanation why so many women feel routinely disrespected and abused by maternity services in this country.

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