Maternal Health

Traveller mothers-to-be face the harshest pregnancy and birth statistics in Ireland:

  • Higher rates of pregnancy loss
  • Higher rates of premature births
  • Lower birth weights
  • Infant mortality rate that is 3.5 times the national rate

“These figures indicate that the majority of Traveller babies are effectively disadvantaged right from conception,” says Lynsey Kavanagh, Maternal Health.
The All Ireland Traveller Health Study documented that 98% of Traveller women actually avail of maternity services. How could maternal health outcomes then be so poor for Traveller children?

Geraldine McDonnell, Parish of the Travelling People; Tessa Collins, Pavee Point; Kelly Nevin, Winnie McDonald, Pavee Point; Christine McDonagh, Blanchardstown Primary Health Care and Anita Pannell, Limerick Traveller Health Project.

Getting through the door of a maternity hospital isn’t enough. Traveller women need to be able to understand the information they are being given and signposted to relevant and appropriate services.
The aim of Pavee Point’s maternal health initiative is to help develop appropriate information resources and to develop awareness of these issues with service providers.
‘Pavee Mothers’ has been developed by Traveller women for Traveller women. It takes the form of:

  • A printed information pack that is not literacy based
  • A Traveller friendly website that can be easily used on a mobile phone
  • A text message campaign

In launching Pavee Mothers, Professor Peter Boylan, Chairman of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and former Master of the National Maternity Hospital welcomed the resources as a much needed intervention.
“This project shows the importance of health services working with minority groups to improve service provision. It also helps raise awareness on the health issues facing minority groups,” he said.

Dr Peter Boylan at the launch of Pavee Mothers in September 2018. ©Photo by Derek Speirs