Hidden maternal health problems: what women don’t talk about

Posted on: 23 October 2018

An international conference on maternal health today will hear from four women who will speak about their own personal experience of maternity services in Ireland. Their participation highlights the importance of their voices in the debate on the future of maternal health services in Ireland.

All four have taken part in the MAMMI (Maternal health And Maternal Morbidity in Ireland) Study at Trinity and will be among a panel of leading Irish and international researchers in maternal health and health services reorganisation and national health policy makers.

The latest results from the MAMMI study will be presented at the conference, which provide new insight into the often hidden problems that many women experience during pregnancy and after the birth of their baby. Researchers have found that these health problems are issues that women don’t talk about enough, and health professionals don’t ask about enough. There are huge numbers of women with incontinence, depression, anxiety and sexual health problems that don’t seek help, and for those that do, accessing services is a real challenge.

Dr Patrick Moran, Senior Research Fellow, School of Nursing and Midwifery said: “Now is a crucial time in the history of maternity care in Ireland – the HSE is currently working to implement the Maternity Strategy, which is intended to deliver a new and better maternity service for the decades ahead.”

It is really important that the women who have experience of needing these services contribute to the conversations and debates about how they are designed and delivered. Too often women’s voices are absent in policy discussions and this is one of the major challenges in developing the type of woman-centred care envisaged in the Maternity Strategy.”

The conference will hear from some of the top national and international researchers and policymakers about how we can use the best available evidence to improve maternity care. Those attending have a shared interest in improving maternal health by translating the best available evidence into practical improvements in how services are delivered to the women who need them.

Speaking of the importance of the implementation of the strategy, Dr Moran said:  “If the strategy is done well, pregnant women and new mothers will experience excellent services that will meet their health needs in an appropriate and timely way. If it is not done properly now then hundreds of thousands of women will pay the price in the coming years by not having the services they need to prevent, diagnose and treat health problems associated with pregnancy and childbirth, many of which are suffered in silence.”

Media Contact:

Ciara O’Shea, Media Officer, Trinity College Dublin, at COSHEA9@tcd.ie 

or Tel: +353-1-896-4337

Conference details:

‘Improving Maternal Health – from Evidence into Action’



The MAMMI (Maternal health And Maternal Morbidity in Ireland) is an Irish longitudinal study on the health of first-time mothers in Ireland. The study is being done because the lack of information on the health of women after the baby’s birth prevents us from understanding what causes some of these problems for women in Ireland. The information that women provide by completing this survey will help fill in some of the gaps in the current knowledge about women’s health after childbirth. The MAMMI study is funded by the Health Research Board.

You can find more here: https://www.tcd.ie/mammi/