The NMH Foundation was established in 2012 with the mission of raising much needed funds for designated projects at the National Maternity Hospital. While raising money for a wide variety of projects within the National Maternity Hospital, special attention is given to our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Priority areas for the Foundation include equipment, advanced training and education programmes and support services for mothers and babies, with special focus on maternal and fetal health.
The National Maternity Hospital is a tertiary referral centre looking after mothers and babies from all over Ireland. Delivering over 9,000 babies per year it is one of the busiest maternity hospitals in Europe and cares for women with complex medical disorders in pregnancy and for babies born as early as 23 weeks gestation and weighing as little as 500 grams.
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, is a recognized centre of excellence and tertiary referral centre for acutely ill and pre-term babies from across the country. Babies are admitted to the neonatal unit for a number of reasons. Many are born preterm and require careful observation and monitoring. Others, such as full-term newborns, may have health problems; such has infection, jaundice, cardiac or surgical problems, that require special treatment.
Every year, 5,000 babies are born preterm in Ireland. About 900 of these preterm babies are very immature, born at less than 32 weeks gestation (that is, at least 8 weeks before they are normally due). Approximately 10 babies from around the country are transferred to our unit each week. The most premature could be born at 24 weeks, with the smallest weighing just 1lb 2 oz.
Tús Maith - A Good Start
‘Tús maith, leath na h’oibre’ - a good start is half the work, the old saying goes. And it is especially true when it comes to nutrition and exercise. What a mother eats and a healthy, active lifestyle can have a positive effect on her baby’s development in the womb. There is an established and growing body of evidence that a good diet and proper exercise from the time of conception through infancy can protect a baby from conditions like heart disease and diabetes as an adult- a very good start indeed!
To give every baby a good start, the NMH wants to make our ‘Tús Maith /A Good Start’ programme available to the mothers we care for, with sound advice from our dieticians on good nutrition, exercise, lifestyle change and infant feeding. In order to support the National Maternity Hospital with the Tús Maith programme, the NMH Foundation is working to align itself with individuals, organisations and companies who share in this vision of a healthier Ireland. Classes in nutrition, health, diet, exercise and breastfeeding are all available to our patients, but there is more work to do and the NMH Foundation is now supporting the Hospital in these efforts.
The National Maternity Hospital believes that embedded research is an essential component to improving the maternal and infant care during this most vital stage of human development. Research into maternal and infant health is fundamental to progressing Ireland’s future healthcare needs. It has been shown that hospitals that prioritise research provide the best patient care and more positive patient outcomes.
The NMH continues to face many healthcare challenges including funding difficulties, overcrowding, out-dated facilities and equipment and difficulty attracting top medical staff. A well-funded and supported research programme will help us to make advances the complex medical issues faced in maternal and infant care in this difficult environment. In addition to this, it will help the NMH to attract the most talented and curious medical minds, determined to find clinical solutions to the most complex issues faced by our youngest at the most vulnerable stage of life.
The NMH’s research focus includes critical areas such as maternal diet and nutrition, infant brain injury, delivery room care and respiratory care of preterm infants. Advances in these and many other areas will help us advance the care of our mothers and babies.