I never thought I would look back on 27 years of community home birth experience when I started midwifery in 1981 in Hannover, Germany. Even after qualifying , I thought hospitals were the safer option...'just in case'.
But, in 1990, after our first daughter was born, I decided to come to Ireland and everything changed.
I wasn't really sure how I wanted to work but the women of West Cork made it clear that they needed a different experience for their labours and births than the Irish hospitals were able to offer.
Soon I was part of a thriving alternative community. My first births happened in small cottages, tipis and horse drawn caravans.
I learned a lot from those women. they knew they wanted a safe birth, without unnecessary interventions and yet, they would of course, avail of the benefits of modern medicine if they had to. Most didn't need interventions though.
Babies were born in DIY birthing pools made of straw bales, babies born in caravans, babies in tipis and yurts were my first experiences here in west Cork.
Women from all corners of Europe and beyond came to me to let me help them with their pregnancies and child births, all enormously strong and powerful. Babies born on mountain tops, no neighbours for miles, or born in communities with the inevitable person strumming the guitar in the background.
Times have changed since then. Most 'Hippies' moved on.
I stayed, had two more wonderful home births myself and I am now running a successful home birth practice in co operation with the HSE. Most of my clients now live in proper houses and come from all backgrounds. More midwives came to the area and we are now a team of six in Cork and Kerry.
I'm now old enough to look after women who remember me coming to their house when their mother's had their siblings, or who's mom I help to have a safe birth at home.